Top House Democrats Thursday expanded their more than $80 billion plan to connect all Americans to affordable broadband. Top Dems, including Frank Pallone, Jr. of NJ, Chairman of the Energy & Commerce Committee, and Congressman James Clyburn of SC, House Majority Whip and Chairman of the House Democratic Rural Broadband Task Force, said they welcome recent reports that Republicans support the inclusion of broadband investment in the next coronavirus response packages.
The House Democratic Plan to Connect All Americans to Affordable Broadband Internet invests $80 billion over five years to deploy secure and resilient broadband infrastructure to connect unserved and underserved rural, suburban, and urban areas. If passed, $5 billion over five years would be invested for low-interest financing of broadband deployment through a new program, so providers could apply for secured loans, lines of credit, or loan guarantees to finance broadband infrastructure build outs.
It also includes Dig Once, which promotes the installation of broadband conduit during the construction of any road receiving federal funding. The Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth would be established within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to streamline the application processes for broadband funding programs.
The measure promotes build competition and guarantees the right of local governments, public-private partnerships, and cooperatives to deliver broadband service. It also provides for the rapid deployment of mobile hotspots to enable students without internet at home to participate in remote learning and complete homework assignments requiring an internet connection. Funding is included to deploy WiFi on school buses.
“Just as the Rural Electrification Act made electricity accessible and affordable to all Americans, the plan we are announcing today will make broadband accessible and affordable to all Americans,” said House Majority Whip Clyburn, father of former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. “As we see millions of our fellow Americans unable to telework, learn remotely, or access telehealth because they lack broadband, now is the time to act.”
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