FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel made a road trip to Arkansas Monday to provide opening remarks at a Senate Commerce Committee field hearing on the state of rural communications and had some good things to say about the state of broadband deployment.
"Today, more than 80 percent of American households have access to broadband at speeds as high as 100 Megabits," she told the hearing audience in Little Rock. "The United States leads the world in 4G LTE wireless deployment. And our dedicated rural carriers have already brought communications to some of America's hardest-to-reach communities. This has created new opportunities for jobs, education, healthcare, and social and civic engagement. We have made progress. We should be proud."
But she also said there was still work to do to make sure that rural communities were not left behind. That includes leveraging reclaimed broadcast spectrum for rural wireless services; reforming and simplifying the Universal Service Fund, which subsidizes communications in rural and high-cost areas; getting high speed broadband to more schools and libraries via the E-rate programs, which she would like to see set capacity goals and be easier to use; and connecting rural healthcare facilities.
Rosenworcel was no stranger to either the subcommittee or its chair, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). She worked with Pryor in her previous job as senior communications counsel to the parent Energy & Commerce Committee.