Ohio Digital Divide Working Group Policy Positions
In the midst of the telecom bill's rewrite, what do we hear a lot? A lot on net neutrality. A little on PEG funds. And tiny clips on local control and build out (mostly from the National League of Cities) In Ohio, we believe we need to confront the telecom bill on all of these fronts while also proactively looking for solutions.
Below are the Ohio Digital Divide Working Group’s positions in response to the rewrite of the proposed federal telecom bill, the impending federal farm bill and the state owned fiber network in
Rewrite of Federal Telecom Bill
- Require telecoms to build out video services equitably just as the cable companies did when they first established service.
- Include strong network neutrality language.
- Include a community’s right to network, with no mandates requiring pre-approval from the incumbent provider.
- Include a state’s right to open their state owned fiber network to private ISPs, municipalities and community organizations.
- Establish new source of community technology funding since local franchise negotiating is being removed.
- Possible ideas -
1. Provide Digital Inclusion funding via the Universal Service Fund (would most likely require additional moneys go to the fund)
2. In addition to the set asides for the local governments and PEG, cable and telecom providers would also set aside 1% of revenue for local Digital Inclusion programs.
Expansion of Rural Broadband through Federal Legislation
1. Utilize the Universal Service Fund for increased rural broadband deployment (which may require increasing the funding USF receives);
2. Within the farm bill, improve the USDA Rural Telecom Program which is currently too cumbersome and reliant upon matching funds resulting in discouraging applicants from applying.
3. Within the farm bill, expand funding for the USDA Rural Telecom Program.
1. Open up the Third Frontier Network (a state owned fiber network) to private ISPs, municipalities and community organizations to expand rural broadband to unserved areas.