Loebsack Applauds New White House Report on Expanding Broadband Access

Written by Theresa Rose on September 24, 2015

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack today applauded a new report from the White House Broadband Opportunity Council that details coordinated steps to expand access to high speed internet in poorly connected areas over the next 18 months. The report says more than 25 percent of US households do not have high speed internet because of income or geography. The Broadband Opportunity Council is chaired by Penny Pritzker, Secretary of the US Department of Commerce and Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture.

Earlier this summer, Loebsack joined with fellow Members to call on the Council to modernize regulations for the Rural Utility Service’s (RUS) Telecommunications Program to better facilitate high speed rural broadband development. The report calls for the RUS program to revise their regulations, which will open additional funding opportunities. Loebsack is a member of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over broadband issues.

“Ensuring everyone has access to high speed internet, no matter where they live, is important for rural economic development, education, job growth, businesses, farmers, and families across Iowa,” said Loebsack. “I have met with many small businesses, farmers, and rural telecommunication companies who have stressed the importance of expanding high speed internet to rural areas. Broadband also gives small and rural schools the power to vastly expand their educational options, providing students with a cutting-edge 21st Century education regardless of geography.

“I am pleased President Obama, along with Secretaries Pritzker and Vilsack, laid out this plan to make sure Iowans and others in rural areas are not left behind. Expanding broadband is critical for all Iowans.”

Moving forward, the federal government has made four specific commitments in response to the report to expand high speed internet, including:

· Changing federal programs to allow broadband as an eligible expense in communities participating in the programs;

· Creating an online inventory with details on federal assets such as telecommunications towers;

· Streamlining applications for broadband to allow faster deployment and boost competition;

· Creating an online information hub for communities to learn about federal broadband loan programs.