TIA urges funding of RUS Broadband Loan program

March 24, 2004 Arlington, VA -- The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) today sent letters to the chairmen and ranking members of the U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations committees urging them to fully fund the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Broadband Loan program in fiscal year 2005, as authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill.

Mar 24th, 2004

March 24, 2004 Arlington, VA -- The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) today sent letters to the chairmen and ranking members of the U.S. House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations committees urging them to fully fund the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Broadband Loan program in fiscal year 2005, as authorized in the 2002 Farm Bill.

TIA also asked both committees to take appropriate steps to assist the RUS in facilitating the processing of loan funds provided in 2002-2004. The RUS Broadband Loan Program is a critical part of America's efforts to ensure high-speed Internet connectivity in rural areas and promote nationwide broadband build-out, contend TIA representatives. The program is the only permanent broadband fiscal incentive in the United States today.

In 2003 alone, the RUS made $1.4 billion in loans and loan guarantees available to provide broadband services in rural communities with populations up to 20,000. This money has had a positive, significant impact not only on those who will finally experience the benefits of two-way, high-speed voice, video and data communications, but also on the manufactures and suppliers of communications equipment and services that contribute to job creation, equipment sales, and the development of new services and technical innovations as a result of the loans.

"The provision of broadband transmission service is vital to the economic development, education, health, and safety of rural Americans," asserts Matthew Flanigan, TIA president. "However, the unfortunate truth is that many rural Americans are not able to receive broadband access. The RUS program helps break down the financial barriers that have created the broadband digital divide in our country."

TIA notes that the cost of the RUS broadband loan program to the federal government is modest. The authorized funding level of $20 million will produce approximately $700 million in RUS loans for 2005. Considering these monies serve the multiple purposes of providing broadband connectivity for rural communities, creating new jobs for the nation, increasing manufacturing capability of network equipment, and creating new services, TIA believes this expenditure will be money well spent.

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