FTTH Council Defends RUS Loans

Fiber-to-the-Home Council urges Congress to maintain the mandatory funding level for broadband loans provided in last year's Farm Bill

October 30, 2003

2 Min Read

WASHINGTON -- The Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council today urged the Senate and House of Representatives to maintain the mandatory funding level for broadband loans provided in last year's Farm Bill.

"It is vitally important that the Congress not harm the broadband loan program created and funded in last year's farm bill, if we want to continue to shrink the very real 'digital divide' between the urban bandwidth 'haves' and the rural bandwidth 'have-nots'," said Mike DiMauro, president of the FTTH Council. "We call on Congress to once again take a stand and not allow the perversion of this bill to further widen the gap between rural and urban communities."

As currently drafted, appropriations bills passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate Appropriations Committee would effectively cut the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) broadband loan program funding and would prevent the expenditure of salaries and expenses necessary to actually implement the farm bill program.

"If the worst provisions of the House and Senate Appropriations bills stand, industry confidence in Congressional and Administration commitment to rural broadband deployment will be shattered," stated Leonard Ray, chairman of the FTTH Council's Government Relations Committee. "The industry needs a reliable investment environment and stable rules with which to operate, not year to year uncertainty. These actions will just lengthen and deepen the already catastrophic depression in the telecommunications industry."

The RUS Broadband Loan program represented a strong long-term commitment to rural broadband deployment. Mandatory funding through the farm bill was designed to provide a stable investment horizon for companies, communities and cooperatives planning to make significant investment in rural broadband projects.

"FTTH Council member response to the new broadband loan program has been tremendous. In less than 10 months, the RUS has received about a billion dollars in applications and we know of many more in the pipeline. Few programs provide as much economic bang for the buck," continued Ray.

"Our message to Congress is simple. Do not interrupt or cut the broadband loan program enacted and funded in last year's farm bill," added DiMauro.

Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council

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