Washington, DC (Feb. 11, 2016) — “There is still a persistent urban-rural digital divide that has left 39 percent of our rural population without access to fixed broadband, and businesses need to step ‘outside the beltway’ and into the grassroots of America, where 34 million Americans and roughly 10 percent of the U.S. population reside, in order to fully understand the benefits that the FCC’s special access proceedings would have on rural America,” Tim Koxlien, founder and CEO of TeleQuality Communications, Inc. (TQCI), said at the 2016 INCOMPAS Policy Summit Feb. 10. 

In his remarks on the “Disruptors, Innovators and Investors” panel discussion, Koxlien emphasized that while the Telecommunications Act of 1996, an overhaul of the 1934 law, addressed competition, a future rewrite is needed to promote and encourage unfettered broadband access to the Internet and at reasonable wholesale rates. 

“Special access regulation is about providing Americans, especially rural Americans, with choices,” said Koxlien. “We shouldn’t let the competitive interests of high-paid lawyers representing industry giants obstruct and possibly destroy the compelling case for a free and open Internet that will, in the long run, benefit all, customers and competitors alike,” he added. 

During the panel discussion, Koxlien highlighted how the Internet has served as a communications platform, transforming entire industries since the 1996 Telecom Act was signed 20 years ago. 

“The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) predicted that the new law had ‘the potential to change the way we work, live and learn,’” he said, “but in 1996, broadband, the iPhone, the iPad, Google, and Facebook did not exist, VoIP was at its infancy and cloud-based phone systems didn’t exist. 

“As a result, many aspects of today’s telecommunications issues were either not addressed or held hostage by powerful foes of a competitive marketplace,” Koxlien said.  “Consequently, legislation and the regulations must be rewritten to reflect the modern reality.” 

In its draft progress report last month, the FCC noted that “advanced telecommunications” of at least 25 megabits-per-second (Mbps) for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads “is not being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion to all Americans.” Furthermore, the FCC reported, 41 percent of tribal lands residents lack access, 41 percent of schools that educate 47 percent of the nation’s students have not met the commission’s short-term goal of 100 Mbps per 1000 students/staff and the United States continues to lag behind internationally, ranking 16 out of 34 countries. 

“The FCC is attempting to deal with the issue of access, as the law requires, yet access remains the challenge for Congress as it rewrites this legislation,” Koxlien said.  “Efforts at ensuring access have not been aggressive enough.  That is the challenge for us today,” he added.    

About TeleQuality Communications, Inc. 

TeleQuality Communications, Inc. (TQCI) and its subsidiary, Rural Health Telecom (RHT), are based in San Antonio, TX. Founded in 2006, TQCI focuses exclusively on supplying quality telecommunications products and services to health care providers throughout America. TQCI has made Inc. 5000’s list of fastest growing private companies four times in the past five years. For more information, please visit www.telequality.com.

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