Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., on Wednesday applauded an announcement from the Federal Communications Commission that Oregon will receive $13.7 million to support rural broadband expansion.
The funding is made available through the FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction, which allocated $1.488 billion in support to be distributed over the next decade to expand broadband to unserved communities in 45 states.
“These resources are crucial to help make sure all Oregonians can participate in the 21stcentury economy regardless of where they live,” Walden said in a news release.
“Too many Oregon families and people across rural America lack the broadband necessary to realize the full benefits of the digital age. Throughout Eastern Oregon, I hear from people who are among the 23 million Americans unable to access telemedicine, remote learning, next-generation emergency services, and video streaming because of insufficient Internet service," the lawmaker said.
"This funding will further our efforts to close this digital divide in Oregon, and I look forward to continuing to work alongside Chairman Pai and my colleagues in Congress to ensure all Americans are connected to high-speed broadband,” Walden added.
According to the FCC, 103 providers won support from the Connect America Fund to expand broadband in rural areas where, without the funding, this type of broadband expansion and ongoing service would not be economically feasible.
Locations in all 20 counties of Oregon’s Second Congressional District are served by Viasat, one of the bidders in Oregon, along with Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium that won support from the Connect America Fund auction.
In his statement, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said these funds will help open new opportunities for rural communities in Oregon.
“The successful conclusion of this first-of-its kind auction is great news for the residents of Oregon and across the country, who will be able to get on the right side of the digital divide. I’m pleased that more than $13 million is going to Oregon to help connect more than 10,000 homes and small businesses. This is the latest step the FCC has taken to expand rural broadband, and we will continue working until all Americans have access to digital opportunity,” said Chairman Pai.
Walden invited Chairman Pai to eastern Oregon recently to discuss efforts to improve connectivity in rural communities, including making sure patients in remote areas have access to the best doctors through technology like telehealth.
Walden continues to partner with Pai and the FCC to expand broadband infrastructure to rural communities in Oregon, which is a priority for the lawmaker. Walden noted he led the effort to pass the RAY BAUM’S Act into law, which reauthorized the FCC and gave the agency additional tools to enhance broadband expansion.
To learn more about the FCC’s Connect America Auction, please click here.