CWA urges FCC to build out 10 Mbps rural broadband

Recently, the FCC proposed to increase the minimum downstream speed for the Commission's Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II support from 4 Mbps to 10 Mbps. This week, CWA filed a letter in support of that proposal.

In particular, CWA is concerned that many rural Americans lack access to broadband, and the “CAF Phase II is designed to close that gap by providing support to carriers to build broadband to unserved rural households and businesses.”

Of course, increasing speed also increases network build-out costs. Providers must deploy more fiber, improve technology and pay for the extra work. But, as CWA wrote:

“In order to build networks capable of delivering 10 Mbps in very rural locations, the Commission must increase the funding and build-out period. With a longer funding and build-out period, carriers can afford to invest in more fiber, more terminal equipment, shorter loops, and the labor that necessary for this higher¬ speed deployment... Putting fiber deeper into rural areas supports the Commission's goals to get higher-speed networks connecting rural schools, libraries, and health centers.”

Not every provider can meet these goals. However, CWA represents the workforce at the largest price-cap carriers – including CenturyLink, AT&T, Windstream, Frontier, Verizon, and FairPoint – which have experience in rural areas  And, “These companies employ thousands of skilled, career employees with the expertise, deep knowledge, and strong commitment to quality service for rural America.”

By increasing the reach and quality of rural broadband, the FCC funding proposal can help bring many more Americans into the digital mainstream.

Letter to Tom Wheeler re rural broadband speed increase (CWA, Oct. 31, 2014)