CTF Announces 2022 Rural Broadband Champions

July 13, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Connect the Future (CTF) today announced the recipients of its 2022 Rural Broadband Champions Award: Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Congressmen Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC). Each lawmaker has demonstrated exceptional leadership and dedication to closing the rural broadband gap by working to break down the barriers that stand in the way of swift and efficient broadband buildout to those areas that need it most.

“CTF is grateful to Senator Wicker, Representative O’Halleran, and Representative Butterfield for their unwavering commitment to making sure that everyone still awaiting broadband access – particularly in rural communities – will be able to enjoy the economic, educational, health, and social opportunities that come along with connectivity,” said CTF executive director Zachary Cikanek.

“Bringing connectivity to every corner of the country by targeting unserved areas and reducing barriers to broadband buildout remains top of mind for CTF and our supporters. Thanks in no small part to the leadership of elected officials like Senator Wicker, Representative O’Halleran, and Representative Butterfield, we are now seeing real progress in addressing the digital divide, such as the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill – which correctly targets allocated broadband funds to unserved communities first – and the FCC’s current proceeding on pole attachment reform. With so much work still to do, we’re grateful to have dedicated champions in our corner to help ensure every family in the United States is connected.”  

“I am honored to accept this award. Connecting more unserved communities across the U.S., including the thousands of Mississippians who do not have reliable internet access, has been one of my top priorities as a member of the Senate Commerce Committee,” said Senator Roger Wicker.

“As the U.S. prepares to invest $65 billion in broadband infrastructure as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, I will continue fighting to address outdated regulations, such as pole attachment rules, that stand in the way of bringing internet access to communities in Mississippi and across the country.”

“All rural Arizonans deserve access to broadband so that they can partake in the same opportunities as their neighbors who live in suburban and urban neighborhoods,” said Congressman Tom O’Halleran.

“I won’t stop working to speed broadband buildout until every corner of my district is online, and tearing down the many barriers that stand in the way of efficient broadband deployment is vital to closing that gap.”

“Rural districts like mine have been left behind for far too long because our communities often lack the critical broadband infrastructure needed to bring connectivity to families and small businesses,” said Congressman G.K. Butterfield.

“Closing the digital divide is one of my top priorities, and we will not rest until every North Carolinian receives the broadband access they need to thrive in the 21st century.”

CTF believes every American deserves access to broadband. CTF works to shine a light on the barriers to internet access, especially in rural areas, including improving pole regulations. In 2021, CTF published a report that found that eliminating barriers to nationwide broadband access could create up to $314 billion of new economic gains to America’s homes and small businesses. It also found that every month of delayed expansion due to existing pole attachment rules and problematic pole owner practices costs Americans nationally between $491 million and $1.86 billion in lost economic gains every month.