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Collins introduces legislation to expand rural broadband

Collins introduces legislation to expand rural broadband

By Elaine Owen, Editor
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) last week introduced H.R. 427, the Connect America Fund (CAF) Accountability Act of 2019. The bill will help rural communities access broadband services by outlining additional guidelines for the Federal Communications Commission program that incentivizes broadband carriers to provide service to underserved or rural areas.
“For years, Northeast Georgians have consistently struggled to gain access to reliable broadband speeds. Congress has taken significant steps toward expanding rural broadband infrastructure in recent years, including securing federal funding to providers in rural areas. However, some carriers – particularly in Northeast Georgia – have failed to provide adequate broadband speeds to consumers despite collecting taxpayer dollars.
“Improving broadband access and increasing reliability continues to be a top priority, which is why the CAF Accountability Act is the first bill I’m introducing this Congress. This legislation institutes specific tools to hold providers accountable for accurate reporting while ensuring households and businesses throughout our rural communities have access to the broadband services required to compete in the 21st-century economy,” Collins said in a statement.
Bill Highlights
Increases Accountability – By requiring Connect America Fund (CAF) recipients to include additional information in their quarterly reports to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), this bill will ensure CAF recipients are accurately reporting speeds provided to customers.
Increases Oversight – By increasing accuracy of the quarterly reports, the FCC will have the data they need to adequately disperse CAF funds and exercise oversight over CAF resources.
Protects Consumers – By ensuring CAF funds are being used as intended, rural and underserved areas will have increased access to reliable broadband services.
Background
On May 30, 2018, Rep. Collins and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai hosted a forum with stakeholders across Northeast Georgia to address the challenges of delivering accessible and affordable internet access to rural communities.
On June 17, 2017, Rep. Collins introduced the Gigabit Opportunity (GO) Act to promote broadband development in rural and economically disadvantaged areas.
On May 2, 2017, Rep. Collins joined his colleagues in sending a letter to Chairman Ajit Pai requesting sufficient resources to ensure the Universal Service Fund succeeds in making affordable broadband access a reality for Americans in rural areas.