Tester fights to improve affordable broadband access in rural Montana

Senator: Fast, reliable internet is key to rural connectivity

(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester is fighting to improve access to affordable broadband for families in rural Montana.

Tester today sent a bipartisan letter to Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), urging the agency to modernize its Universal Service Fund, a fund that provides financial assistance to telecommunications carriers who supply services to rural customers.

“Fast, reliable internet is key to rural connectivity, and folks in Montana deserve the same access to high-speed broadband as the rest of the nation,” Tester said after sending the letter. “It is time to update and modernize the Universal Service Fund to keep pace with the changing technology and the needs of families and small businesses.”

The Universal Service Fund currently only provides cost recovery to telecommunications carriers who provide both broadband and telephone services to rural areas. Tester’s letter urges the FCC to modernize the rules so that families who purchase broadband do not have to additionally purchase other unwanted services, such as landline telephone services.

In March, Tester introduced the Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act to direct the FCC to establish basic quality standards for providers who transmit phone calls to all areas of the United States and eliminate the persistent phone call completion issues plaguing America’s rural communities.

Tester’s bipartisan letter to the FCC is signed by 61 Senators, and is available HERE.