American Cable Association President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued April 17 the following statement on the formation of a bipartisan working group of House Energy and Commerce Committee members that will work to promote rural telecommunication issues within the Committee:
"ACA is very pleased that Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Bob Latta (R-Oh.) today announced that a bipartisan group of lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee will work to promote rural telecommunication issues within the panel, which oversees the communications industry and the Federal Communications Commission.
"ACA looks forward to working with the Rural Telecommunications Working Group on a range of issues important to the continued vitality of rural communications providers and their customers. Matters important to cable operators in rural areas that are deserving of the group's attention include the implementation of the Connect America Fund to fund broadband in high-cost areas; the lack of access to middle mile infrastructure at reasonable rates; difficulties in obtaining access to pole attachments at reasonable costs; and expeditious access to rights of way on fair terms and conditions. Moreover, the group should consider the high cost for smaller providers in obtaining access to programming, both local broadcast signals and regional and national sports, and the aggregate burdens of regulations on smaller providers.
"The formation of the 18-member group - evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats - is a timely and encouraging event, because rural America faces many economic hurdles that require the attention of policymakers at the highest level. The creation of this working group also reinforces ACA's view that communications providers serving hometown America deserve carefully tailored policies that will stimulate investment in advanced communications services -- especially blazing-fast broadband - desired by consumers and businesses."