NPR Story
11:17 am
Fri June 21, 2013

FCC Rules Choke Rural And Tribal Broadband Access

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In order to expand broadband service to rural and tribal areas of the Southwest, the Federal Communications Commission will have to change it's rules. That's according to providers who say FCC regulations are doing more to hinder broadband deployment than expand it.

Small companies looking to provide broadband services to rural communities like the Mescalero Apache in New Mexico, and the Tohono O'odham in southern Arizona say FCC rules have hampered if not halted the expansion of broadband access in rural communities.

One problem according to NTCA, otherwise known as the Rural Broadband Association, are artificial caps created by the FCC.

If your company spends too much, you hit a cap. If you don't spend enough, you hit a cap. Shirley Bloomfield with the NTCA says that uncertainty puts a damper on investments because hitting a cap can mean not recovering costs.

"If these carriers don't have support, they're simply going to have to make decisions to not choose to build infrastructure into areas that really need it," says Bloomfield.

The NTCA hopes with newly confirmed FCC chair, Tom Wheeler, reform of regulations can begin.

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