Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) recently introduced the Funding Affordable Internet with Reliable (FAIR) Contributions Act to study the impact big streamers like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video have on rural network costs and availability. This legislation would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct a study into the current and projected demands on rural broadband networks associated with services offered by edge providers. It will also allow broadband providers to supply the FCC with aggregate data on how much of their network bandwidth is being utilized by edge providers.
This bill will provide Congress with crucial information as we continue to examine the possibility of requiring these edge providers to contribute to FCC's Universal Service Fund, which is used to increase broadband access in rural areas. This bill is the House companion to S. 2427, introduced by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
In Oklahoma's Second District, less than half the residents have access to broadband Internet, a necessity most people across the country have enjoyed at a low cost for years. More than 45 percent of individuals living on Tribal land in Oklahoma don't have access to high-speed internet.
This is a continuation of Mullin's work to expand rural broadband access to those who need it the most and ensure that big streamers are paying their fair share. Mullin previously introduced the Rural Broadband Network Advancement Act to establish a new program at the FCC that would collect Network User Fees from edge providers based on the data transported over the last mile of networks.
"Streamers like Netflix account for 75 percent of all traffic on rural broadband networks," Mullin said. "While these big streamers earn significant revenue from rural subscribers and put a substantial strain on their networks, they do not pay to cover the cost of their delivery services. This is like sending a letter through the mail without a stamp. Big streamers rely on rural broadband networks to deliver their services to rural communities, yet the burden of cost is placed on the consumer, rural broadband providers, and the federal government. My bill will shed light on the role of streamers in the economics of the internet today and ensure we have a better understanding of what it takes to close the digital divide."
"We are very appreciative of Mr. Mullin and his being a champion for rural broadband throughout Oklahoma," Mark Gailey, President & General Manager of Totah Communications, Inc said."The future of rural broadband must reimburse small companies who have ongoing operational costs associated with providing internet service. It is also critical that all users of the network provide support in hard to reach areas. This bill is a step in the right direction."
"Contributions reform is essential for the long-term viability of the Universal Service Fund," Larry D. Jones, Vice President/Chief Financial Officer of Chickasaw Holding Company said. "It's time to end the free ride that Big Tech and Big Streamers have been taking advantage of to deliver their goods and services. The biggest beneficiaries of the network should be supporting the network and we applaud Rep. Mullin for his common sense and leadership on an issue so important to Oklahoma."
"Today, the vast majority of Internet traffic comes from a handful of edge companies that do not contribute to the Universal Service Fund," Brandon Heiner, USTelecom Senior Vice President, Government Affairs said. "We appreciate Rep. Mullin's leadership and look forward to continuing to work with Congress and the FCC to ensure the future for universal service."