Hoeven, Klobuchar Introduce Legislation to Establish FCC Office Of Rural Broadband

Legislation Will Ensure Federal Coordination in Providing Rural Access to Reliable, Affordable Broadband

WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven and Amy Klobuchar recently introduced bipartisan legislation to establish an Office of Rural Broadband at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), tasked with helping coordinate federal resources and providing more rural Americans with access to reliable, affordable telecommunications and broadband services.

“Congress has made it a priority to provide our rural communities with access to reliable, affordable broadband services. This bipartisan legislation will help to coordinate and streamline rural broadband programs to make them more cost-effective and efficient,” said Hoeven. “By ensuring that the federal government’s broadband programs work in concert, we can maximize each dollar and improve and sustain service to more Americans in rural areas.”

“Our 21st century economy demands 21st century infrastructure - and that includes broadband,” said Klobuchar. “Establishing an Office of Rural Telecommunications will ensure that rural broadband deployment is a priority for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and that every family, regardless of their zip code, has access to high speed internet.”

“With much-needed initiatives underway within multiple agencies to promote a shared national vision of universal broadband access, it is more important than ever to ensure that such efforts are coordinated with and complement one another,” said NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield. “Introducing the Office of Rural Broadband Act not only demonstrates support by Senators Hoeven and Klobuchar for promoting the efficiency and effectiveness of such efforts, but also in seeing that the broadband needs of rural Americans will remain a top priority.”

Under the legislation, the Office of Rural Broadband will coordinate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) and other agencies to ensure that all federal agencies with jurisdiction over rural broadband work together to maximize federal funding and coordinate efforts to improve and sustain broadband services in rural areas.

Additionally, the office will be responsible for tracking broadband adoption rates in rural areas, coordinating federal efforts to remove barriers to broadband deployment, assessing the impact of FCC actions on rural consumers and providing annual reports on progress.  

The legislation is supported by the NTCA – the Rural Broadband Association, the North Dakota Association of Telecommunications Cooperative and the Minnesota Telecom Alliance. Congressmen Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) have introduced similar legislation in the House of Representatives.