U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer appealed to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday, along with a number of Orange and Sullivan County business and home owners, to work on a way to lower the current standards in order to allow Hudson Valley telecommunications companies to access over $485 million in unused funds that could help spread the availability of broadband across the country.
In a recent statement on the Senator’s website, Schumer calls for the lowering of restrictions to help attract and retain companies in Orange County and throughout the Hudson Valley.
“There is clear evidence that more flexibility is needed because the rules have left and will continue to leave significant portions of the money on the table, and therefore not working on the ground to get broadband to the consumers and businesses who need it,” Senator Schumer said in a letter to the FCC.
According to Schumer, the FCC will allow funding for companies that can provide broadband for less than $775 per household, and only in specific types of areas. Schumer also noted that a local telecommunications company, Frontier Communications, accepted funding in 2012, but were unable to use it in the Hudson Valley region due to these restrictions.
“Broadband access is as important to companies as highways and bridges,” said Mike Oates, president and CEO at Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation. “[I]nnovative companies need to have broadband to be competitive.”
The FCC announced in a public notice that proposed modifications to the Connect America Fund (CAF), the fund where the unused money is located, and comments regarding the proposal are due by January 28.
“I urge (the FCC) to take seriously the concerns and comments of the carriers who would like to utilize the CAF-I funds immediately,” Schumer concluded in his letter. “The ability of non-urban Americans to compete in the digital age depends on access to reliable broadband; by improving CAF, you can and will play a significant role in our economic growth.”
Edited by Braden Becker