GO Act: Broad Support for Capito’s Efforts to Expand Rural Broadband

“Broadband access can provide West Virginians with opportunities that lead to new jobs and higher wages, providing the momentum our state’s economy needs.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following introduction of the Gigabit Opportunity Act or GO Act last week, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-W.Va.) efforts to improve high-speed internet access in rural America drew broad support from stakeholders, including FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

The Parkersburg News and Sentinel also ran an op-ed by Senator Capito in Sunday’s paper about the GO Act. Read it here or see the full piece below. 

What They’re Saying

“The Gigabit Opportunity (GO) Act is an important step toward closing the digital divide, and one that has my full support. Next-generation networks are increasingly critical to economic opportunity, job creation, and civic engagement. But too many parts of rural and urban America can’t attract the investment needed to deploy those networks. With targeted tax incentives and regulatory streamlining, the GO Act aims to remove the major barriers holding back Internet access in economically challenged areas. I commend Senator Capito for her vision of extending digital opportunity to all Americans. The FCC shares that vision and stands ready to provide any necessary assistance to Congress as it considers this critical legislation.” – FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

“CTIA appreciates and shares Senator Capito’s focus on ensuring all Americans have access to affordable broadband and finding creative ways to spur wireless investment in areas with unique economic and geographic challenges. The wireless industry stands ready to invest nearly $300 billion over the next decade in 5G. Creative incentives for wireless providers and efforts to modernize our infrastructure siting policies, both of which this legislation addresses, will help enable consumers and communities across the country to enjoy the economic and social benefits of 5G.” – CTIA Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Kelly Cole

“Senator Capito is among the preeminent leaders in the U.S. Congress when it comes to promoting robust broadband deployment. We thank the senator for her continued focus on this issue and look forward to further conversations about this bill and other initiatives to help ensure that properly tailored and effective incentives are in place to target broadband deployment to those places in need and to enable greater access by all Americans to future-proof networks.” – NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield

“For rural and low-income communities to be able to take advantage of the broadband economy we need new networks in new places.  We thank Senator Capito for her leadership, and look forward to working with her to help bring faster speeds and more choices to families and small businesses across America." – Chip Pickering, CEO of INCOMPAS 

“I applaud Senator Capito for introducing the GO Act and for her leadership on this very important mission to ensure all Americans, including low-income individuals and those residing in rural and hard-to-reach areas, have access to high-speed mobile broadband services. There is absolutely no question the positive impact that mobile broadband brings – economic, social, educational, health, public safety – the list goes on, and in this day and age, it has become a necessity. The GO Act is an important step in helping bridge the digital divide and corresponds nicely with Chairman Pai’s Digital Empowerment Agenda. – CCA President and CEO Steven K. Berry 

Broadband Key to Economic Growth
Parkersburg News and Sentinel 
By Senator Shelley Moore Capito

“The fate of rural America is the focus of much national attention today. Yet, many across West Virginia have been feeling the very real effects of this debate for some time. Our communities have been hard hit by job loss and decline, creating a major drag on the state’s economy and our quality of life.

“One of my top priorities has been to promote policies that spur new investment and boost economic growth. Broadband access can provide West Virginians with opportunities that lead to new jobs and higher wages, providing the momentum our state’s economy needs. Potential investors need to see that West Virginia and its workforce are open for business and ready to get to work in the 21st century economy.    

“According to the FCC, more than 30 million Americans lack access to high-speed broadband internet, including a disproportionate number of rural communities. Without this connectivity, these communities struggle to compete in today’s internet-based world.

“In 2015, I launched my Capito Connect plan, jumpstarting a statewide conversation about the need to connect West Virginia. Broadband should be easily available and affordable. It’s that simple – and, at the federal level, I have been leading efforts to make this a reality.

“The benefits of broadband access are numerous. But too many parts of rural America can’t attract the investment they need to get online. Despite significant federal and private funding, West Virginia is less connected than nearly every other state in America. We’ve been hamstrung by a lack of competition between service providers and burdensome regulations, and failed to maximize existing resources.

“West Virginia’s rural communities have so much potential. Communities like Thomas and Davis in Tucker County or the whitewater resorts in Fayette County need robust broadband to fully capture the potential of a tourism economy.  These communities can capitalize on their natural beauty and attract a technology-based workforce that simply needs a computer and strong, stable connectivity to reach clients around the globe. 

“In order to help these communities realize their potential we must equip them with the right tools to succeed.  

“That’s why I recently introduced new legislation to accelerate the development of high-speed internet in low-income communities. The Gigabit Opportunity or GO Act encourages new investment to connect these rural and urban areas.

“By empowering governors and states to direct investments to areas with the greatest need, this proposal ensures that communities with the highest potential for economic development are prioritized for funding. For providers, the proposal eliminates barriers to new investment in broadband infrastructure and incentivizes competition.

“Under the GO Act, the Federal Communications Commission is directed to release a framework to streamline broadband laws that states, counties and cities can voluntarily adopt. This will eliminate the myriad of duplicative and inconsistent laws that currently exist and complement existing broadband legislation in states like West Virginia.

“Once adopted, governors would be able to nominate a portion of their state’s low-income areas as Gigabit Opportunity Zones. Businesses that invest in these zones or make upgrades to speed up their networks would benefit from targeted tax and other incentives.

“Internet access should be broadly available regardless of whether you live in a small town or big city – and this connectivity is essential to growing West Virginia’s economy. With all the focus on rural America, now is the time to level the playing field and close the digital divide.”

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee.