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Fischer, Begich Introduce Bill Requiring GAO to Assess FCC's Progress Increasing Broadband Access

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) announced today that they have introduced legislation requiring the Comptroller General of the United States to submit a report to Congress on the effectiveness of the Federal Communications Commission's Universal Service Fund (USF) reforms.

"The legislation Senator Begich and I are introducing will require the Government Accountability Office to provide lawmakers with an important oversight tool necessary to monitor the FCC's implementation of Universal Service Fund reforms in the coming years. Importantly, these reforms will impact both rural and urban Nebraska communities as the federal government seeks to address insufficient broadband access. I hope the Senate will quickly pass this commonsense, bipartisan legislation," said Fischer.

"I have heard for months on end about the uncertainty and unpredictably facing the telecom providers in my state of Alaska as a result of the FCC's Universal Service Fund reform order," said Begich. "The challenges and uncertainty facing Alaska companies are extreme examples of the challenges faced by all providers committed to serving rural areas throughout the nation. Rural telecom expansion and deployment is far too important to go unchecked, which is why more data will help us get a better understanding of how these new rules affect our communities."

On October 27, 2011, the FCC adopted a Transformation Order and FNPRM on Universal Service Fund and Inter-Carrier Compensation. The Order seeks to modernize the system to ensure affordable broadband and mobile services are available to all Americans. It will be implemented through two phases, with Phase I currently ongoing.

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