Daines Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Expand Broadband to Rural Montanans

U.S. SENATE  U.S. Senator Steve Daines today introduced the bipartisan Reprioritizing Unserved Rural Areas and Locations for Broadband (RURAL Broadband) Act of 2018, which will prioritize federal funds that are used to provide broadband access to areas that are unserved with no access before they are used to upgrade areas with existing service. 

“We must work to close the rural-digital divide so our rural communities can be part of the 21st Century economy,” said Daines. “My bill ensures that these critical funds be used for the communities who need them most.”

Read the full bull text, HERE.

Statements of Support:

“The Montana Telecommunications Association (MTA) enthusiastically supports the good-government legislation introduced by Senators Steve Daines and Patrick Leahy.  Montana’s rural broadband providers invest nearly $100 million every year in telecommunications infrastructure to serve their business and residential consumers with advanced communications capabilities.  This investment is supported in part by loans and grants from the Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program and from the universal service fund overseen by the Federal Communications Commission.  It is essential that these broadband programs compliment—and not duplicate—one another.  And that’s just what this legislation does.  MTA is extremely thankful for the support that Congress is dedicating to rural broadband deployment. With the leadership of Senators Daines and Leahy, Congress can leverage existing broadband investment, while minimizing waste of taxpayer resources dedicated to broadband infrastructure deployment.” – Montana Telecommunications Association

“Sens. Daines and Leahy are proven leaders on rural broadband and have offered a thoughtful bill to ensure that necessary federal resources are coordinated for maximum impact in high cost rural areas in need of broadband. NTCA welcomes this legislation and appreciates these senators’ steadfast commitment to improving the quality of life in rural America by ensuring as many Americans as possible will be able to experience the benefits of broadband access.” – Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of the Rural Broadband Association (NTCA)

“ITTA strongly supports Senator Daines and Senator Leahy’s legislation that would ensure taxpayer supported broadband funding is not used to overbuild networks already supported by the Universal Service Fund.  Specifically, Senator Daines’ legislation would prohibit the use of USDA RUS funding to compete against those rural carriers receiving Universal Service support, a consumer-funded federal program administered by the Federal Communications Commission.  ITTA urges the Senate Agriculture Committee to include Senator Daines’ bill in the 2018 Farm Bill to protect against overbuilding of networks already supported by the Universal Service Fund.”  – The Voice of America’s Broadband Providers    

“For the better part of the past two decades, the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste has fought against the continued use of taxpayer dollars to overbuild existing broadband infrastructure.  This is a critical waste issue that must be addressed by Congress, and Senator Daines and Senator Leahy’s legislation is a good start toward combatting this problem.” –  Tom Schatz, President of the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste president Tom Schatz: 

“When federally-directed funds are used to build broadband networks, it makes sense to ensure we’re not funding duplicative networks. We appreciate Senator Daines and Senator Leahy addressing this issue and making sure RUS loans and grants are targeted efficiently to areas where they’re needed most.” – Derrick Owens, WTA – Advocates for Rural Broadband’s Senior Vice President of Government and Industry Affairs.