Congressman Chris Collins’ Subcommittee Examines Small Business Access to Rural Broadband
The Small Business Subcommittee on Health and Technology, under the chairmanship of Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27), today conducted a field hearing in Albion, NY (Orleans County) to discuss the need for expanded broadband access for small businesses.
The Subcommittee examined the strategy and role of the federal government in expanding broadband capabilities to small businesses, specifically in ruralcommunities. Representatives from various Internet providers and the business community testified about wireless spectrum, federal broadband programs, Universal Service Fund reform, and other initiatives of the Federal Communications Commission.
"Small business owners and farmers in rural America can use technology to grow their businesses, but they need broadband Internet access,” said Chairman Collins. “When businesses invest, grow, and hire, whole communities will benefit. Lack of access to broadband is one more roadblock among the many economic challenges rural small businesses have to work hard to overcome. Today, we heard great insights about this problem from both the provider and small business perspectives. We appreciate this testimony to Congress, and look forward to working to remove regulatory and other barriers so that expanded rural access can become a reality.”
Mark Meyerhofer, Director, Government Relations of Northeast-Western New York, Time Warner, Lancaster, NY, said, “However, it remains extremely challenging to extend broadband to the most rural areas of NYS, where geographic isolation and topographic issues make it economically infeasible for companies to reach these areas – investment simply cannot be recouped before it is time to reinvest.
Jill Canfield, Director, Legal & Industry and Assistant General Counsel, NTCA, The Rural Broadband Association, Arlington, VA, said, “While the Regulatory Flexibility Act directs executive agencies to consider more flexible approaches that could save small businesses money without undermining the purpose of regulation, in practice the FCC has beenable to get away with minimal adherence to the form of the Act while disregarding its spirit and intent. Greater devotion to the intent of the RFA could direct millions toward investment as small businesses save the costs of battling and eventually complying with poorly drafted rules… The rural industry remains hesitant to invest while it awaits a more predictable and investment friendly replacement for the much derided caps and continues to seek its own broadband-focused fund that supports standalone broadband.”
Kendra Lamb, Owner, Lamb Farms Inc., Oakfield, NY, testifying on behalf of the New York Farm Bureau, said, “It might be hard for some people to imagine, but New York State has some very rural locations and we have large gaps where broadband access is just not available, including here in Western New York. In today’s age, with access to the Internet, a small business can operate from anywhere. But similarly, it’s hard to imagine a small business surviving and thriving in a rural area if it cannot be competitive in a world marketplace.”
Congressman Collins hosted a stakeholder’s roundtable following the hearing to continue the discussion about the importance of access to broadband with local elected and community leaders. Participants included: Hon. David Callard – Orleans County, Hon. Ray Cianfrini – Genesee County, Hon. David Godfrey – Niagara County, Hon. Lynne Johnson – Orleans County, Hon. Daniel Leuer – Wyoming County, Hon. Gregg Torrey – Genesee County, Christine Carr – Computers for Children, Julie Christensen – Kendall Central Schools, Scott Gardner – Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce, Laura Lane – Livingston County Chamber of Commerce, Julie Marshall – Livingston County Economic Development, Evhen Tupis – Orleans County, Office of NYS Senator George Maziarz, and Office of NYS Assemblyman Steve Hawley.