Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative CEO Fred Johnson invited by AG Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy Ranking Member Tuberville to testify about importance of rural broadband expansion
WASHINGTON — Today, Fred Johnson of Rainsville testified in a U.S. Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry (AG) Subcommittee on Rural Development and Energy hearing at the invitation of Ranking Member U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL).
Mr. Johnson is the CEO of Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative (FTC), Inc., which is the largest, member-owned telecommunications cooperative in Alabama. During the hearing titled, “Rural Broadband: Connecting our Communities to the Digital Economy,” Mr. Johnson spoke about the importance of increased service access speed for rural areas as members prepare to draft the 2023 Farm Bill.
Excerpts from Mr. Johnson’s opening statement can be found below, and his full statement can be found here.
“For over 70 years, FTC has maintained a long and proud history of leading Alabama in communications excellence. Most recently, we deployed Alabama’s first widely-adopted gigabit capable Internet access service. We currently serve an area of approximately 662 square miles with a world-class multi-gig broadband network based entirely upon more than 2,528 route miles of optical fiber.”
“For over 41 years, I have been involved in some form with rural electrification, rural telecommunications, or a combination of both. I was challenged at a young age to carry on the efforts of those wise men and women responsible for the early rural development of our area. I am both grateful, and humbled, to have the opportunity to speak to the United States Senate about broadband deployment The reason is simple. What you do here makes a difference in the lives of the people I serve, and millions like them across our great land.”
“The unprecedented commitment of the U. S. Congress to expand the deployment of broadband, holds great promise for our nation. Yet, the task is daunting. There are pitfalls to be avoided. Important lessons, drawn from prior success must not be forgotten. The Farm Bill affords you an opportunity to ensure they are not. I sincerely hope my comments and written statement shed helpful light upon that task.”
“By focusing more granularly on proposed funding areas, Alabama has a good track record in this regard. Even would-be competitors have rallied around a program that does not foster conflict among providers but, rather, enables service to the truly unserved.”
Senator Tommy Tuberville represents Alabama in the United States Senate and is a member of the Senate Armed Services, Agriculture, Veterans’ Affairs, and HELP Committees.