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Sen. Thune co-sponsors bill to change how broadband is funded

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Thune at Ascent

U.S. Sen. John Thune answers questions from the media earlier this year at the Ascent Innovation Center in Rapid City.

Sen. John Thune is one of four lawmakers who recently introduced legislation seeking to change the funding mechanisms for the Federal Communications Commission’s Universal Service Fund, which promotes universal access to broadband and other telecommunications services.

Thune, R-S.D., is the ranking member of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband.

“It is crucial that rural communities across South Dakota have access to reliable broadband services,” he said Tuesday in a press release. “For years I have fought for predictable and sufficient support for broadband providers to help enable the continued deployment of these services throughout our communities. I’m proud to support this legislation that builds on those efforts to ensure that the FCC’s Universal Service Fund remains sustainable in the future.”

The USF includes programs to support broadband access in rural communities, facilitate rural health care, and expand access to affordable broadband service for low-income families, schools and libraries. It is largely funded by fees imposed on landline telephones.

As the use of landlines continue to decline, Thune said it places a disproportionate impact on seniors, who are significantly more likely to use a landline than younger adults.

According to a news release, the Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act directs the FCC to initiate a rule making proceeding to reform the contributions system, taking into account the fairness and the relative burden any changes in fees will have on consumers and businesses, as well as the impact the proposed changes will have on seniors.

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