Twelve trade associations, including the Wireless Infrastructure Association, USTelecom, and 10 others – representing the broadband, wireless, internet, streaming and tech industries – called on Congress Thursday for immediate action to support and fund critical broadband infrastructure and services.
In a letter to leaders in both the House and Senate, the associations urge legislators to support bipartisan legislation, before year-end, that provides funding for broadband service for families and students. The letter asks to clarify the extension of the current CARES Act for network deployment through 2021, and ensures the FCC has funding to develop accurate broadband maps.
Time is critical, note the associations, which also include: the Fiber Broadband Association, Rural & Agriculture Council of America, Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association, U.S. Chamber Technology Engagement Center, Computer & Communications Industry Association, INCOMPAS, TechNet, Connect Americans Now, and the Internet Association.
More specifically, in order to address the near-term crisis, they ask that lawmakers support the following:
“Funding for Broadband Adoption, Starting With Kids. According to the 2018 American Community Survey, households with annual incomes below $35,000 accounted for 60 percent of those without broadband. Funding is needed right away to ensure school children and families currently without broadband service can obtain a device and subscribe to broadband. This is especially needed now to empower households to respond to the educational, economic, social, and healthcare impacts created by COVID-19.
Investment for Broadband Deployment. Current CARES Act funding is being used by some states to deploy broadband and clarifying the timeframe for such funding to be extended to complete those existing projects through 2021 should be a priority to continue to bridge the digital divide. Solutions for broadband connectivity for unserved homes, businesses, schools, libraries, and healthcare facilities can facilitate educational opportunities, keep citizens healthy and gainfully employed, and help everyone to better weather the challenges of the pandemic.
Funding for Accurate Broadband Mapping. Our nation can more efficiently and cost effectively address the broadband challenge with accurate data. The FCC has developed a new national methodology to improve broadband mapping, ensuring every federal broadband program dollar can be deployed as quickly as possible where it is needed most. But the Commission cannot get started without funding. So, time is of the essence. The FCC must have the funding now that it needs to implement its new methodology.”
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