(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) today joined Reps. David Trone, Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Andy Harris, M.D., and Anthony Brown in sending a bipartisan letter to the Chairman of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) urging him to change a policy that would prohibit states like Maryland that have previously invested in broadband infrastructure from receiving any part of $16 billion in funding through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF).

In their letter, Members stress the importance of the RDOF program amid the coronavirus outbreak, where communities across the country are being encouraged to stay home, and broadband access is more important than ever. In many rural communities in Maryland, lack of broadband and internet access puts people at a severe disadvantage to access tele-communication, tele-education, and tele-health.

Currently, a state is ineligible to receive any part of funding from the RDOF if it has previously received investments from other groups. This disadvantages many Maryland communities that have been proactive in attempting to increase broadband access for areas in need. 

The members write, “The COVID-19 public health emergency shines an unfortunate spotlight on an issue with wide bipartisan agreement: disadvantaged Americans need access to affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband (25mbps/3mbps) connectivity to contribute to the 21st Century American economy and to achieve their hopes and dreams.”

In the letter they request the FCC to reconsider the fundamentals of this program before the October 22, 2020 program start date.

You can find a copy of the letter here.