A bipartisan group of House Small Business Committee members, led by contracting and infrastructure subcommittee Chairman Jared Golden (D., Maine), today asked the FCC for a plan to close the digital divide and urged the agency to improve its broadband data collection methods and maximize access to unlicensed and shared spectrum in rural areas.
In a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the lawmakers noted that in a recent committee hearing, they heard that “small e-commerce businesses in rural America suffer from inconsistent coverage and must either resort to using their cellphone[s] as a hotspot or cease distribution until they can connect.” They added that “[w]hen small businesses cannot maintain operations in rural America, it impacts the viability of rural communities and their ability to attract young families and compete in the digital economy.”
Regarding broadband data collection, they said that “[a]ccurate broadband maps will ensure that federal funds will serve the communities that need them most. As members of Congress, we look forward to working with [the] FCC on those data collection methods that will provide more context and assist in defining a more complete picture of the state of broadband availability.”
They also noted that they have “heard from small business owners who are enthusiastic about new and innovative technologies, such as TV white spaces (TVWS), that provide them with access where there is a deficit or lack of fiber-optic solutions. Adopting a mixed technology model that provides access to more unlicensed and shared spectrum opportunities for innovators to develop new technology helps close the digital divide.” They urged the FCC to address regulatory barriers that stand in the way of “broader deployment of alternative broadband technology” and to “continue exploring ways to maximize access to unlicensed and shared spectrum in rural areas and reduce regulatory roadblocks to the availability of TVWS technology.”
They asked Chairman Pai to respond by May 15 “with the FCC’s plan to foster innovative ways to close the digital divide.”
Joining Rep. Golden on the letter were contracting and infrastructure subcommittee ranking member Pete Stauber (R., Minn.); full committee Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D., N.Y.); full committee ranking member Steve Chabot (R., Ohio); Abby Finkenauer (D., Iowa), chairwoman of the rural development, agriculture, trade, and entrepreneurship subcommittee; rural development subcommittee ranking member John Joyce (R., Pa.); Jason Crow (D., Colo.), chairman of the innovation and workforce development subcommittee; innovation subcommittee ranking member Troy Balderson (R., Ohio); Andy Kim (D., N.J.), chairman of the economic growth, tax, and capital access subcommittee; Ross Spano (R., Fla.), ranking member of the investigations, oversight, and regulations subcommittee; and Reps. Tim Burchett (R., Fla.), Sharice Davids (D., Kan.), Marc Veasey (D., Texas), Adriano Espaillat (D., N.Y.), and Brad Schneider (D., Ill.). —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]
MainStory: FederalNews Congress BroadbandDeployment WirelessDeployment
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