Charter backs permanent Rural Health Care program
Charter Business, a division of Charter Communications, came out in support of the Federal Communications Commission's effort to extend the Rural Health Care Pilot Program.
Charter Business said its customers in Wisconsin and Oregon currently benefit from a pilot program for rural health care that the FCC proposes to make permanent and expand nationally in the years ahead.
The program is set to expire next year, but last week the FCC proposed rules to enable it to spend up to $400 million annually from a portion of the federal Universal Service Fund that it administers.
According to the FCC, the new funding would bring affordable broadband connectivity to more than 2,000 rural hospitals and clinics. Approval of the new rules is subject to a public comment period and further action by the FCC. The effort to extend the pilot program was among the recommendations of the National Broadband Plan, released by the FCC in March.
Under the new proposal, the expanded program would enable patients in rural areas to have access to state-of-the-art diagnostic tools typically available only at the largest and most sophisticated medical centers. Charter Business currently provides that type of connectivity via the pilot program in rural Wisconsin and Oregon.
Through the pilot program, the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative ITN has deployed redundant servers for electronic health records, providing vital links for disaster preparedness and emergency response, according to Charter.
"We applaud Chairman Julius Genachowski and the FCC for their efforts to boost the growth of Internet services in the United States through the National Broadband Plan, and we look forward to working with the Commission as it considers ways to extend and enlarge the current pilot program," said Mike Lovett, Charter's president and chief executive officer. "The deployment and adoption of broadband can be especially effective through cooperative initiatives and a spirit of public-private partnership. Charter is eager to continue our work with the FCC to maximize both the deployment and adoption of broadband technology and services."