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Montana Senators Want Better Rural Phone Service

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Senators Jon Tester and Max Baucus are leading a bipartisan coalition calling on the Federal Communications Commission to encourage companies to upgrade phone and Internet service in rural America.

The senators want the FCC to reform its Universal Service Fund because many rural communities don't have up-to-date phone and Internet service.    

The fund, last reformed in 2011, supports new investments by telecom carriers in hard-to-reach areas. 

But, the senators say those reforms left the amount of support that companies receive too unpredictable, discouraging some carriers from making the improvements. 

Tester recently secured a commitment from the FCC to implement rules that require companies to monitor how often calls made from rural areas actually connect.

Tester and Baucus, as well as 24 other senators, want the FCC chairman to improve predictability of the USF so carriers can more confidently invest in affordable broadband throughout rural communities.

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