Midwest Energy Cooperative is attempting to change national policy to open the retail marketplace so that other entities (like electric co-ops), can provide real solutions for rural broadband.
“Broadband Internet is a necessity for full participation in our economy and society,” explains Bob Hance, President and CEO, Midwest Energy. “Yet in 2014 many Americans, particularly in rural America, are without affordable, quality options.“
The Universal Service Fund (USF) was designed to ensure that all Americans have access to quality telecommunications services at reasonable and affordable rates. Out of the USF came the Connect America Fund (CAF), funds specifically designated to extend broadband and advanced mobile services to rural America.
“Due to policy and politics,” continues Hance, “those funds are funneled through incumbent telecommunications providers who are not motivated to use them to truly affect large-scale change within rural America.”
Right now there is $1.8 billion/year for a five-year period available to extend broadband to the rural space. Midwest Energy, working closely with other vested partners, has committed significant time and resources to engage the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other agencies in dialog about meaningful policy change that would make funds available to non-incumbent providers who are truly interested in impacting change on behalf of rural Americans.
To learn more about Midwest Energy’s efforts, and to submit comments for the call to action to educate legislators about what rural America needs in broadband solutions, visit the Broadband Call To Action webpage.