By Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (R-NY)
In today’s world, your internet connection can determine your destiny. It shapes your access to education, healthcare, and employment. The COVID-19 pandemic has only driven this point home. Those who lack bandwidth, lack access and opportunity.
To make matters even worse, upstate New York suffers from virtually no broadband competition and choice. This has left too many customers, especially in rural areas, with limited service options, nonexistent service, or service that is far too expensive.
My priority in Congress is to fix this problem to drive down costs and increase broadband access, quality, and competition in our region. I was recently in Chenango County, where I met with local leaders, educators, and small business owners to discuss innovative ways communities in our area like Sherburne are leveraging federal resources and funding to expand broadband.
I also released a comprehensive broadband plan centered on three key pillars. First, we must unleash the private sector. In Congress, I support legislation like the Gigabit Opportunity Act as well as the Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act, both of which will encourage smaller internet providers to improve and expand their internet offerings in our area. These bills will also ensure broadband providers have access to the skilled workforce they need to build out and maintain new emerging technologies like 5G.
Second, we must boost competition. This is why I have written a letter to the FCC urging them to immediately tackle the broadband monopoly in our region and allow new companies to enter our market. Spectrum currently holds far too much market share in Upstate communities, which has allowed them to continually raise rates, ignore the need for service improvements, and leave many without the access to broadband they were promised. Every community deserves access to a broadband marketplace of choices that expands their access and brings down their cost.
Third, we must increase access in underserved and rural communities. That is why I cosponsored the American Broadband Act as well as the Community Broadband Mapping Act. These bills will provide over $20 billion over the next five years to promote broadband infrastructure in underserved communities. They will also prioritize projects that provide true future-proofed high-speed internet, so our rural communities are not stuck with subpar internet. In addition, they will allow communities to appeal inaccurate federal internet service maps. These maps are often deeply flawed, overstating the broadband access available to residents. Fixing this mapping issue will allow more communities to access the resources they deserve.
Last month, I testified in front of the powerful House Appropriations Committee on the need for greater investments in broadband expansion. I urged the committee to fully fund the USDA’s ReConnect Program, which brings vital internet service to rural communities in our area.
I will continue to fight for broadband access across upstate New York. We deserve access to a robust internet marketplace that drives our speed up and our costs down. Expanded broadband will empower our local businesses, help our children, and improve our access to online healthcare services. In this 21st century world, we need 21st century solutions that work.
Congresswoman Claudia Tenney represents New York’s 22nd Congressional District as a member of the House Small Business Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. You can follow her on Twitter: @RepTenney