Highlights from the Field: May 2021

June 3, 2021

May was another busy month as we continued to ramp up efforts encouraging state legislators, policymakers, and key stakeholders to break down the existing barriers that stand in the way of expanding broadband access to the millions of unserved rural homes, businesses, and anchor institutions across the country.


  • The U.S. Department of the Treasury recently issued an Interim Final Rule that implements the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds established under the American Rescue Act, including a $350 billion state and local fund for broadband infrastructure projects. Notably, the Interim Final Rule defines unserved or underserved areas as those unable to deliver minimum speeds of 25/3 Mbps, ensuring that government funding flows to households and businesses that remain truly unserved first.
    • CTF supporter Focus on Rural America sent a letter of support to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on its Interim Final Rule. In the letter, co-founders Patty Judge and Jeff Link emphasize that this rule gives truly unserved communities a chance to catch up before investments are diverted to areas where consumers already have access to networks with gigabit speeds.
  • On May 26, CTF held an all-members call to discuss ongoing efforts to expand rural broadband access. During the call, coalition supporters were updated on the recent virtual ‘fly-in’ meetings with congressional rural broadband leaders, including Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI-02), and staff members from five other congressional offices. Members on the call also shared updates on their own priorities.
  • The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation recently hosted a virtual webinar, “How to Bridge the Rural Broadband Gap Once and For All,” featuring panelists from CTF coalition supporters National Grange and Charter Communications. Panelists discussed lessons learned from past and ongoing broadband expansion projects to guide new congressional broadband infrastructure funding efforts. Watch the panel here.


  • CTF applauded Florida lawmakers for enacting the Broadband Deployment Act (HB 1239), which takes important strides toward clearing obstacles to the expansion of high-speed internet service throughout the Sunshine State.
  • The Consortium for Florida Education Foundations (CFEF) and CTF hosted a webinar to discuss how Florida’s digital divide has impacted students’ educational experiences. The virtual webinar featured remarks from State Representative Michelle Salzman (R-1). Read the key takeaways from the webinar here.


  • In a letter to the editor of the Louisville Courier-Journal, CTF supporter Kentucky Youth Advocates’ (KYA) executive director Terry Brooks called for “favorable policies at the state and local level that promote infrastructure investment and innovation to ensure more affordable, higher-speed internet services” for children and families living in rural communities. Read the full letter from KYA here.
  • In a Frankfort State-Journal op-ed, state Representative Derrick Graham (D-57) urged Kentucky’s Public Service Commission (PSC) to use its current rule-making opportunity to “help ensure broadband is deployed to rural areas more quickly, so that we can connect every corner of Kentucky.” Read the full op-ed from Rep. Graham here.

North Carolina

  • CTF North Carolina recently published a new blog post and accompanying infographic that explains why utility poles play such a critical role in determining how quickly high-speed broadband can be deployed to rural parts of the state. The blog post also includes proposed policy solutions to streamline utility pole access and replacement. Read the full post here.
  • North Carolina state Representative Jason Saine (R-97) and state Senator Ralph Hise (R-47) recently filed companion measures, House Bill 815 and Senate Bill 689, to establish much-needed regulatory oversight related to utility poles so that broadband providers can more quickly expand service to unserved areas. Read more about the proposals here.


  • Broadband expansion legislation in Ohio passed its final vote in the state legislature on May 5 and is now on its way to Governor Mike DeWine (R-OH) for his signature. House Bill 2, sponsored by Representatives Rick Carfagna (R-68) and Brian Stewart (R-78) focuses on connecting rural parts of the state by streamlining access to electric cooperative-owned utility poles and establishing a new broadband grant program. Read more about HB 2 in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

South Carolina

  • On May 24, CTF third-party supporter Palmetto Care Connections held a webinar with state Senator Thomas Alexander (R-1), who discussed the challenges faced by South Carolina’s rural communities that still lack access to high-speed internet.


  • The Texas Senate passed House Bill 1505, which will help expand broadband access to rural communities by addressing some of the largest obstacles to building out broadband infrastructure like pole attachment regulations. The bill now heads to Governor Greg Abbott’s (R-TX) desk for his signature.