Tester takes concerns over rural broadband internet access straight to President

Senator says broadband investment ‘creates jobs on Main Street’

(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester is taking his fight for rural broadband internet access straight to the President.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently developed a nationwide plan to reform the way resources are allocated and invested in broadband internet infrastructure.  The plan could hurt Montana’s small businesses by discouraging broadband investment in rural America.

Tester today told the President that the FCC should “rethink” its plan, saying that encouraging broadband internet investment in rural communities is proven to create jobs.

“Access to broadband internet service means access to bigger markets for Montana’s small businesses and new jobs on Main Street,” Tester said.  “I encourage you to make sure any national plan doesn’t discriminate against Montana and rural America.”

Tester wants the FCC to rework its plan in order to remove the uncertainty facing rural telecommunication companies.  He noted that a recent study found that rural telecom companies support over 54 percent of jobs in rural areas.

In Montana, rural telecommunication companies provide more than 1,000 jobs and help small businesses like Harlowton-based TicketPrinting.com connect with their customers.

“To fill our customers’ orders, we depend on reliable, fast internet access,” said Lance Trebesch, TicketPrinting.com’s CEO.  “If we can’t connect, we lose productivity and folks could turn elsewhere.  I appreciate Senator Tester standing up for broadband access in rural Montana.”

The National Broadband Plan released by the FCC would phase out parts of the Universal Service Fund, which has a long history of successful investments in rural telephone systems.  The plan would also cut the amount of resources available to providers to invest in rural communications.

Tester, who led a bipartisan group of Senators last year in fighting to protect investments in rural communications, wrote FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in April about the issue.  He has not yet received a response. 

Tester’s letter to President Obama is available online HERE.