The National Grange Announces Support 
for Universal Service Fund Reforms

The National Grange announced its support for a proposal to modernize the use of the federal Universal Service Fund to cover rural broadband deployment.
 
 
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Aug. 3, 2011 - PRLog -- WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The National Grange, America's oldest rural advocacy group, has announced its support for a proposal submitted to the FCC by six of the nation’s leading broadband providers in their effort to speed broadband deployment to the more than 4 million Americans residing in rural areas by modernizing the use of the federal Universal Service Fund.

Ed Luttrell, National President of the National Grange, said after careful review, the organization supports the proposal because it would bring broadband to rural areas without rendering residents in rural areas without phone service.

“The National Grange has been hesitant to comment on the restructured utilization of USF monies for broadband build-out because we wanted to make sure that our rural members would not be stranded without phone service in the transition,” Luttrell said. “We are now confident in this unified plan, which brings together both traditionally rural and national carriers to create a concentrated approach for our members.”

The plan comes from six companies -- AT&T, CenturyLink, FairPoint, Frontier, Verizon and Windstream -- that serve a majority of telecommunication customers in the United States, and would work to allow almost every American broadband access within 5 years without growing the USF.

“We applaud these organizations for working together to formulate a proposal which can make rural broadband an affordable reality,” Luttrell said.

Accessibility to broadband for those in rural America is one of the Grange’s 10 priority issues included in the 2011 Blue Print for Rural America, a document that is shaped by member-initiated issues that have been supported at the local, state and national Grange levels.

Established in 1867, the National Grange has more than 200,000 members in 2,700 communities throughout 40 states of the United States. The organization meets annually to develop its legislative policy for the coming year, and to recognize the talents of its members. This year, the national convention will be held Nov. 8 to 11 in Tulsa, Okla. For more information on the National Grange, its legislative policies and programs, please visit www.nationalgrange.org.
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