For Immediate Release
Contact: Ted Hearn
PITTSBURGH, March 24, 2020 – ACA Connects President and CEO Matthew M. Polka issued the following statement in support of the Keeping Critical Connections Act, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) to help rural broadband customers during the coronavirus COVID-19 emergency:
“ACA Connects’ 750 small and mid-sized broadband providers — most of which operate in rural areas and serve fewer than 1,000 customers — understand that their service is vital to their residential and business customers.
“Ever since the COVID-19 emergency was declared, these providers have been working overtime to meet the growing demands on their network. And, not only are they maintaining reliable, high-quality service for existing customers but also they are providing new service to students, workers, and others who need financial assistance as a result of the pandemic.
“These providers are fully committed to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s ‘Keep Americans Connected’ pledge to not disconnect or charge late fees to customers who are unable to pay their bills on time because of circumstances related to the coronavirus outbreak.
“At the same time, these providers are looking down the road at what their customers and communities need and expect should the emergency unfortunately continue beyond the pledge’s 60-day timeframe.
“It is for this reason that ACA Connects supports the approach taken by Sens. Klobuchar and Cramer in the just-introduced Keeping Critical Connections Act.
“If ACA Connects members are to continue maintaining service for existing customers and connecting customers in need, especially in higher cost rural areas, all of them should know that the federal government is ready to support them in their efforts.
“This legislation helps achieve that aim, as well as to provide encouragement to our members to keep investing in network infrastructure to meet the surging amounts of traffic caused by the emergency.”