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Begich Meets with FCC Nominee and Presses Him on Universal Service Fund

Says Lack of Broadband Access “Has to Change”

U.S. Senator Mark Begich today brought major telecommunication issues facing Alaska to the attention of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Nominee Tom Wheeler during an introductory meeting in Begich’s Senate office.

Begich highlighted a number of points including the dramatic effect that the 2011 Universal Service Fund Reform Order has had on Alaska.

“I was grateful for the opportunity to meet with Mr. Wheeler and discuss Alaska’s unique  needs when it comes to our rural areas and broadband needs - a ‘one-size’-fits-all approach certainly won’t work,” said Begich. “The dramatic reduction in Universal Service Fund resources has created uncertainty and has slowed down planned wireless deployment in rural Alaska. This is increasing the already large communications gap with the Lower 48 and it has to change. We need a chance to catch up, but have no prospect of sufficient and predictable funding. I’ll be asking Tom some tough questions during his confirmation process and look forward to further explaining Alaska’s needs to him.”

Begich is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, where he will play an active role in Wheeler’s upcoming nomination hearing.   Wheeler is the former head of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, a post he held for five years, and also worked at the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association for 12 years before becoming a venture capitalist.

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