Tester continues #ConnectMT Initiative, pushes for standalone broadband

Senator urges FCC Commissioner to change rules, allow rural customers to buy internet & phone separately

(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester is continuing his #ConnectMT initiative to improve broadband services in rural Montana, and allow customers to buy internet and phone service separately.

In a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler, Tester outlines how the Universal Service Fund (USF) only provides investment to telecommunications carriers who provide both broadband and telephone services to rural areas.

Tester then 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. Tester believes changing the rules will save Montanans money and increase consumer choice.

“In Montana, many folks are moving away from traditional telephone lines as a primary form of communication. At the same time, Montanans demand for broadband services continues to rise,” Tester wrote.

Tester also pushed the FCC to strengthen predictability in the Universal Service Fund (USF), which provides financial assistance to telecommunications carriers who supply services to rural customers.

“While we treasure our beautiful and sparsely populated wide-open spaces, we also face unique challenges in deploying broadband services to all,” Tester wrote. “With the right tools and resources, I am confident Montana’s carriers will continue to invest in high speed broadband. As with running any business, the predictability of those resources is a key component to success.”

Each year the USF invests approximately $100 million in rural broadband infrastructure across Montana.

In October, Tester brought Chairman Wheeler to Montana and launched his #ConnectMT initiative to improve access to high-speed internet, guarantee rural calls are completed, and strengthen local radio and television stations for Montana.

Tester’s letter to Chairman Wheeler is available HERE.