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Rep. Bergman introduces Rural Broadband Window of Opportunity Act

The bill would require the Federal Communications Commission to prioritize the processing of broadband expansion applications located in areas with shorter build seasons.
FILE. Congressman Jack Bergman (R-MI) as seen in his U.S. House office.
FILE. Congressman Jack Bergman (R-MI) as seen in his U.S. House office.(WLUC)
Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 3:02 PM EST
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WASHINGTON (WLUC) - Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI) Monday introduced the Rural Broadband Window of Opportunity Act to level the playing field for broadband expansion in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

Specifically, the bill would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to prioritize the processing of broadband expansion applications located in areas with shorter build seasons.

Over the coming months, the FCC will be reviewing applications and other relevant documents submitted by service providers who are seeking to receive federal funding for broadband infrastructure build outs through the $9.2 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I (RDOF) (Read more about RDOF here).

Bergman says communities in Michigan’s First District are slated to receive a large portion of these funds, which will be implemented by service providers over the next 10 years.

However, it is important for these service providers to begin building out their networks as soon as possible to not only meet their program obligations but simply to get unserved and underserved communities connected as soon as possible.

For this reason, the Rural Broadband Window of Opportunity Act would ensure the applications for buildouts in areas with limited construction seasons, such as due to long and snowy winters, are processed faster than others. Any bureaucratic delays would have greater negative consequences in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula than in areas with more temperate climates.

“I’m proud to introduce the Rural Broadband Window of Opportunity Act because it is common sense that the FCC should process RDOF applications faster for Michigan projects where a dark and snowy winter is always around the corner, as opposed to projects in less seasonal states. We need to get shovels in the dirt as soon as possible – especially considering the increased need for telehealth and remote working during the pandemic. This simple change would level the playing field for the service providers who have put skin in the game to connect the many households and businesses in Michigan living on the wrong side of the digital divide,” said Rep Bergman.

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