Access to broadband is the central issue in rural communications today
CenturyLink executive testifies before Senate Commerce subcommittee
WASHINGTON, April 9, 2013
WASHINGTON, April 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Consumer access to broadband in
high-cost markets is the central issue in rural communications today,
CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) Executive Vice President for Public Policy and
Government Relations Steve Davis told a U.S. Senate subcommittee today at a
hearing on the state of rural communications.
CenturyLink recommended that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
release additional Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase I monies right away to
help carriers meet the high costs of bringing broadband to unserved areas.
"In the 21st century economy, being connected has become an integral part of
nearly everything we do—in work, education, medicine, agriculture and numerous
other pursuits," Davis told the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and
Transportation Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet.
"And for rural communities seeking economic development, a robust broadband
infrastructure is often a prerequisite before any business, large or small,
will consider moving to that area."
Over the past five years, CenturyLink has invested more than $4 billion to
bring broadband access to every corner of our service territory where it is
economically feasible. "And despite the rural nature of our markets, we are
making high-speed Internet service available to more than 91 percent of the
homes and businesses in our local service areas," he said.
"In the last several years, broadband availability has definitely increased,
but more must be done," Davis explained. "In the near term, the challenge is
to keep reaching unserved households and bring more consumers and communities
into the broadband economy."
As the FCC and rural providers have worked together, several guiding
principles have emerged over time:
oWe must target support on a granular basis to places where market forces
would not otherwise make it available.
oWe must ensure that support goes only to those uneconomic places and where
there is not an unsubsidized competitor providing adequate service.
oWe must ensure that supported services are reasonably equivalent to those
available in urban markets, in features, quality and price.
oWe must match support and obligations to serve—obligations cannot exceed
the available support and those obligations should be limited to the
CAF I is a critical feature of the FCC's broadband deployment plan. This
program is intended to jumpstart the unserved deployment process by allocating
money annually to the deployment of broadband services in high-cost, unserved
The states and local markets that will benefit from this funding are eager to
see the release and use of these CAF I funds to build broadband networks and
allow them to access the services that will be offered. With spring's arrival,
the time for providers to build networks is now.
Unsurprisingly, support for moving forward with this approach has been
bipartisan and widespread across both urban and rural affiliations. Nearly 100
members of Congress have contacted the FCC within the last 90 days requesting
the release of additional CAF I funds. Governors, mayors, business owners and
consumers from across the country have also weighed in with their letters and
words of support.
"Timely FCC action could significantly narrow the rural digital divide, and
faster broadband speeds and greater availability of broadband services will
give rural consumers access to new educational opportunities, cloud computing
services, healthcare applications, IP television and streaming video," Davis
"The good news is that it appears the FCC is ready to move forward on this
important initiative. We believe and hope that the FCC is prepared to adopt
an order which would lay the groundwork for use of these CAF I dollars sooner
rather than later," he noted. "For the hundreds of thousands of households
and businesses that have little hope of receiving high-speed Internet services
today, a speedy decision by the FCC would be a welcome and meaningful action
that would improve both lives and economies in these markets for years to
Davis concluded his testimony, "The challenge of bringing robust broadband
services to rural America is not an easy one, but it's an important one, and
we look forward to working with the FCC and Congress in 2013 and beyond to
continue improving the state of rural communications."
CenturyLink is the third largest telecommunications company in the United
States and is recognized as a leader in the network services market by
technology industry analyst firms. The company is a global leader in cloud
infrastructure and hosted IT solutions for enterprise customers. CenturyLink
provides data, voice and managed services in local, national and select
international markets through its high-quality advanced fiber optic network
and multiple data centers for businesses and consumers. The company also
offers advanced entertainment services under the CenturyLink® Prism® TV and
DIRECTV brands. Headquartered in Monroe, La., CenturyLink is an S&P 500
company and is included among the Fortune 500 list of America's largest
corporations. For more information, visit www.centurylink.com.
SOURCE CenturyLink, Inc.
Contact: Linda M. Johnson, +1-202-429-3130, email@example.com
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