Tester to Telecomms Execs: Can You Hear Me Now?

Senator: When I Go Home, There Are No Bars on My Phone

(U.S. Senate)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester is picking a new fight on behalf of rural America, turning up the volume on the telecommunication industry to bring better cell phone service to Montana.

During a Senate Commerce Subcommittee hearing, Tester fiercely raised his concerns that rural America is getting left behind and the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is not providing the resources needed to connect rural communities with reliable cell phone service.

“Look at the bars on this phone,” Tester told the telecommunication industry executives. “When I go home, there are no bars.”

Tester is demanding that the FCC and telecommunication companies refocus on their missions to better connect rural America with wireless coverage.

“We aren’t even close to talking about 4G, or 3G, or any-G where I live,” said Tester when told about the investments in 5G coverage in the nation’s biggest cities. “We aren’t even close. I might be able to get a text message, but if I am not standing in the right corner of my house, this phone does not work.”

Tester launched his #ConnectMT Initiative in 2015 to address the communication challenges facing Montana and he is calling on the Senate to immediately take up an infrastructure bill that includes investments in rural broadband.

Tester last month secured a major investment to expand wireless coverage in the most rural areas of Montana. As a result of Tester’s work, over 50,000 square miles of Montana will now be eligible to receive funding to expand wireless coverage through the FCC’s Universal Service Fund’s Mobility Fund-about one-third of the entire state.

Currently, 30 percent of Americans living in rural areas lack access to high-speed internet as compared to only 2 percent in urban areas.