House approves rural phone quality measure

By Daniel Enoch

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WASHINGTON, Sept. 28, 2016 - NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association is applauding the House of Representatives for passing the Communications Act Update Act of 2016, which includes provisions to combat problems of telephone calls failing to complete to rural areas as well as measures to relieve small business network operators from burdensome broadband obligations.

NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield said the legislation holds great significance for rural Americans and the small hometown businesses committed to providing them with quality voice and broadband services.

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“We hope the Senate, which has also looked at many of these same issues, will now build upon its own efforts to tackle specific challenges like ensuring call completion and relieving small business burdens,” Bloomfield said in a release.

The provisions addressing call quality were co-sponsored by Rep. David Young, R-Iowa, and Peter Welch, D-Vt., and unanimously approved Tuesday as part of the Communications Act Update.

“Our families and job creators in Iowa, and across the nation, rely on phone service to run their businesses, respond to emergencies, and stay in touch with family and friends," Young said. “No matter where one chooses to live, phone service should be consistent and reliable. I appreciate my colleagues for working with me on this important issue, so folks in Iowa's rural communities and communities across rural America have quality phone service they deserve.”

Young's Call Quality and Reliability Act requires that providers register with the Federal Communications Commission and meet quality standards ensuring rural Americans can rely on phone service. It also prohibits providers from using any intermediary routing services not registered with the FCC.

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In other news, Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., today introduced the Broadband Connections for Rural Opportunities Program Act, which would allow for grants to be awarded in combination with the current loan funding available through the Rural Utilities Service Broadband Loan Program.

“It has been clear for some time that more resources and greater focus are needed to address and overcome the challenges of deploying and sustaining broadband in rural America” Bloomfield said. “NTCA greatly appreciates the leadership of Sens. Gillibrand and Capito in shining a spotlight on these concerns and introducing a vehicle to move this important debate forward. We are eager for the conversation that this bill should stimulate, and look forward to working with these senators and other policymakers to develop thoughtful, coordinated programs that enable every American-rural and urban-to have access to robust and affordable broadband.”


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