Butterfield Introduces Expanding Opportunities for Broadband Deployment Act

May 20, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman G. K. Butterfield (NC-01) introduced the Expanding Opportunities for Broadband Deployment Act to increase access to and speed the deployment of broadband to households and small businesses currently without this vital service.  The bill will enable more broadband service providers to participate in the FCC’s Universal Service Fund (USF) programs by eliminating an outdated requirement that only internet service providers designated as eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) may receive USF dollars.

“Across the country, millions of Americans still lack access to consistent and reliable Internet service.  Some rural districts like mine lack the broadband infrastructure necessary to serve all the households that need it.  And in urban areas, there are low-income families that simply cannot afford it,” said Butterfield.  “Quick passage of this critical legislation is particularly important to rural areas like some in Eastern North Carolina where broadband is not currently available.  Those unserved areas lack access in part because experienced and highly qualified broadband providers who are not designated as ETCs are not permitted to participate in the USF High Cost program.

“Expanding eligibility to non-ETCs will enable more efficient and faster deployment of broadband infrastructure spurring greater competition. Eliminating the ETC requirement will benefit low-income families in North Carolina and across the country by providing more choices for broadband service through the Lifeline Program while promoting competitive prices and high-quality service.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the absolute necessity of high-speed internet access for participation in the modern world. My bill, the Expanding Opportunities for Broadband Deployment Act, will ensure that affordable broadband is quickly and efficiently deployed to unserved households while closing the digital divide for low-income households at this critical moment in our Nation's history.”