SCHUMER: DURING ROUNDTABLE IN LIVINGSTON COUNTY, SENATOR REVEALS TWISTED FED PLAN THAT...

SCHUMER: DURING ROUNDTABLE IN LIVINGSTON COUNTY, SENATOR REVEALS TWISTED FED PLAN THAT WILL UNDERCUT HIGH-SPEED INTERNET ACCESS ACROSS WESTERN NY; SENATOR DEMANDS FCC IMMEDIATELY REVERSE COURSE FROM DOWNGRADING SPEED & QUALITY BENCHMARK AND CALLS FOR INCREASED FEDERAL INVESTMENT IN HIGH-SPEED INTERNET INFRASTRUCTURE

FCC Plan Downgrades The Minimum Standard Of High-Quality Internet Service And Treats Lower-Quality Service As A Stand-In For Fixed Home Internet; Schumer Says Proposal Is Real Blow To Livingston County’s Consumers, Businesses, Hospitals And Universities Who Desperately Need Better Internet Quality And Reliability

Washington, DC  – (RealEstateRama) — FCC Rules That Promote More High-Speed Internet Access Are Threatened; Senator Says, If Approved, Internet Under New Standard Will Be Like Driving Tractor Instead Of A Trans Am And Calls For More Federal Investment In Broadband Infrastructure

Schumer: Livingston County Needs A Better Deal for Universal High-Speed Internet

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today joined Livingston County residents and officials to call on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to first reverse course and reject any proposal to downgrade the minimum benchmark definition of internet service, which would create the mirage of more widespread broadband service without actually improving quality or accessibility for high-speed home internet for Livingston County residents and businesses. In addition, Schumer unveiled a new comprehensive plan to provide major federal investments in high-speed internet called A Better Deal: Universal High-Speed Internet. Schumer emphasized that the FCC pushing this lower standard would undermine access to genuine high-speed broadband for Livingston County residents, and diminish access to vital broadband. Schumer called on the FCC to end all attempts to “define access down” and Schumer unveiled a new plan that would provide a massive boost to high-speed internet service in communities in Livingston County and beyond.

“Livingston County residents, students, and business owners need and deserve high-speed internet to do everything from conducting business to doing their homework. The FCC’s ill-conceived plan is a broadband mirage that wouldn’t actually expand real high-speed internet for consumers or businesses. In fact, it would make it harder for Livingston County residents to connect,” said Senator Schumer. “We need to invest in broadband infrastructure that is why the FCC must change course, and why I am proposing a new plan to spur investment in broadband infrastructure called A Better Deal. Communities like this one need top-notch high speed internet and they shouldn’t accept anything less. After all, for countless households and businesses here– and across New York– access to robust, affordable internet service is more important than ever.”

Schumer said in the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt understood that every American needed reliable and affordable electricity to succeed in the new economy. But utilities had only delivered electricity to big cities, leaving millions of Americans behind. As a result of the 1936 Rural Electrification Act, FDR’s New Deal brought jobs, productivity, opportunity, and growth to all corners of the Country. The electricity of 2017 is high-speed internet and that is why Schumer is pushing a two-pronged plan to deliver high-speed internet to everyone. First, the Senator is calling on the FCC to end proposals that would hurt internet access, and second the Senator is unveiling a new plan called A Better Deal that would make comprehensive federal investments in high-speed internet.

Schumer said that each year the FCC evaluates national broadband deployment standards to ensure internet service providers (ISPs) are equally distributing quality broadband. In 2015, the FCC established a new definition of broadband, increasing the access requirement from 4Mbps minimum download speed, 1Mbps upload speed, to 25Mbps/3Mbps in order to serve the 55 million Americans without high-speed internet at those speeds. This decision was an attempt to raise the bar for the quality of internet being deployed and set goals aimed at increasing reliable broadband access for millions of Americans.

Schumer continued: “It’s disingenuous for the FCC to give the appearance that they are supporting broadband expansion, when in reality they are ‘defining access down,’ to borrow a phrase from the late great Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. The FCC must immediately reset their proposal and download a new program that supports real, high quality and fast broadband for Livingston County residents and beyond.”

Schumer explained that the FCC’s recent Notice of Inquiry (NOI) would scale back the progress made by the 2015 decision by enabling ISPs to offer consumers slower speed internet and count that as high speed broadband. In considering whether mobile broadband access could serve as a viable alternative to home broadband, the NOI would define the U.S. broadband standard as 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload for mobile, less than half the current 25Mbps/3Mbps standard for home broadband. The FCC would consider areas covered by either the lower mobile standard or fixed service as “served.” Not surprisingly, instead of improving current service, the NOI would leave home broadband speeds at current levels, which is detrimental to New Yorkers living in rural areas.

Schumer said that, as anyone who has a cell phone knows, most mobile coverage of today could never serve as a comparable substitute to consistent home internet. With present technological constraints, mobile internet can vary in speed and the quality is not nearly reliable enough to be considered an adequate and sufficient alternative to good home internet if held to the low standard of 10Mbps/1Mbps. According to Schumer, under this new proposal there would be even less of an incentive for ISPs to improve existing fixed home internet service, or buildout new broadband infrastructure, or even improve mobile broadband quality for the thousands of rural and low-income communities who lack sufficient access currently – further increasing the digital divide between rural and urban dwellers. Lastly, the new definition could have an enormous impact on the funding available for those in Livingston County seeking to expand broadband networks into uncovered areas.

“If this new watered-down high-speed broadband standard is approved by the FCC, it will be like driving a tractor instead of a Trans Am for rural broadband users,” added Schumer.

Schumer in addition to calling on the FCC to reverse course also announced a new proposal called A Better Deal: Universal High-Speed Internet. Livingston County Officials have reported to Schumer that while broadband is offered in much of the county, there are still significant portions that remain unserved or underserved. Specifically Livingston County has found that every one of its 17 towns has areas of under to unserved tracts. Five towns in particular – Groveland, York, Avon, Caledonia and Springwater – have major swaths of areas that lack adequate broadband service. Livingston County explained it is seeking federal assistance to achieve its goal which is to reach every unserved home and business with adequate broadband in order to cover 100 percent of the County. Schumer explained this new proposal would invest in expanding broadband access in Livingston County and beyond to help it meet this goal. Specifically, the new Better Deal proposal would strengthen broadband in two vital ways:

First it would force the FCC to update its National Broadband Map. Currently, the FCC’s National Broadband Map does not accurately reveal the extent of the areas within Livingston County that are underserved or unserved. Under the existing outdated National FCC Map, it shows that some census tracts are considered served areas but they are actually underserved areas.

Without an accurate map, Livingston keeps finding itself shut out from existing federal broadband grants making it harder to expand broadband to the whole county.

Second it would release vital federal funding to create a Universal Grant Program to close the ‘Last Mile Gap’ which would help Livingston County level the playing field between residents with and without high-speed internet service at their homes. It proposes billions in federal dollars to build the kind of broadband infrastructure that will finally connect communities that have been left behind by the big internet service providers

Schumer was joined by Local elected officials, business owners, and residents.

Schumer said for too many households in Livingston County and across Upstate New York, access to robust, affordable broadband service is their livelihood. Instead of pushing policies that could weaken the national standard for this critical resource, the feds should be raising the bar for service quality and expanding coverage throughout rural communities and thus he is urging the FCC to reverse course, reconsider this proposal, and take every step possible to ensure Finger Lake residents stay connected.

A copy of Schumer’s letter appears below:

Dear Chairman Pai and Commissioners Clyburn, O’Rielly, Carr and Rosenworcel:

I write today to urge the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to reject its current proposal to downgrade the minimum benchmark definition of internet service and to treat mobile broadband as a stand-in for fixed home internet. It is my concern that pushing this standard would only “define access down” and reduce connectivity quality for New Yorkers and the rest of the nation.

As you know, each year the FCC evaluates national broadband deployment standards to ensure internet service providers (ISPs) are equally distributing quality broadband. In 2015, the FCC established a new definition of broadband, increasing the access requirement from 4Mbps minimum download speed, 1Mbps upload speed, to 25Mbps/3Mbps, excluding mobile service, in order to serve the 55 million Americans without high-speed internet at those speeds. This decision was an attempt to raise the bar for the quality of internet being deployed and set aspirational goals aimed at increasing broadband access for millions of Americans.

The FCC’s recent Notice of Inquiry (NOI) would scale back the progress made by the 2015 decision by enabling ISPs to offer consumers slower broadband. In considering whether mobile broadband access could serve as a viable alternative to home broadband, the NOI would define the U.S. broadband standard as 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload for mobile, less than half the current 25Mbps/3Mbps standard for home broadband. The FCC would consider areas covered by either the lower mobile standard or fixed service as “served.”

As anyone who has a cell phone knows, most mobile coverage of today could never serve as a comparable substitute to consistent home internet. Not only does today’s mobile internet typically vary in speed, the quality is not nearly reliable enough to be considered an adequate and sufficient alternative, especially if held to the low standard of 10Mbps/1Mbps. Furthermore, under this new proposal there would be even less of an incentive for ISPs to improve existing fixed home internet service, buildout new broadband infrastructure, or even improve mobile broadband quality for the thousands of rural and low-income communities who lack sufficient access currently – further increasing the digital divide. Lastly, the new definition could have an enormous impact on the funding available for those in my home state of New York seeking to expand broadband networks into uncovered areas.

For many households across the nation, access to robust, affordable broadband service is their livelihood. Instead of pushing policies that could weaken the national standard for this critical resource, we should be raising the bar for service quality and expanding coverage. I urge the Commission to reconsider this proposal and take every step possible to ensure all Americans stay connected.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

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Senator Charles Schumer

U.S. Senator Charles “Chuck” Ellis Schumer has dedicated his career to protecting the middle class and helping those working to reach it. Though he has become a leader in finding common sense solutions to national issues, Chuck has built a reputation as a tireless fighter for New York, visiting all 62 counties every year and talking to constituents in every corner of our state.

Contact:

Phone: (518) 431-4070
Fax: (518) 431-4076

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