House Dems Unveil Infrastructure Plan With Broadband Focus

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All 31 Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, led by Committee Chairman Frank Pallone of New Jersey, want to put $40 billion toward expanding high-speed internet access across the country as part of a $120 billion-plus infrastructure bill they’ve proposed.

The Leading Infrastructure For Tomorrow’s America Act, or LIFT America Act, includes investments in several key areas, including broadband:

  • $40 billion for the deployment of secure and resilient high-speed broadband internet service to expand access for communities nationwide and bring broadband to 98 percent of the country.
  • $12 billion in grants for the implementation of Next Generation 911 services to make 911 service more accessible, effective, and resilient, and enable Americans to send text messages, images, or videos to 911 in times of emergency.
  • $5 billion in federal funding for low-interest financing of broadband infrastructure deployment through a new program that would allow eligible entities to apply for secured loans, lines of credit, or loan guarantees to finance broadband infrastructure build out projects.
  • $2.7 billion to spur the development of Smart Communities, including $850 million in technical assistance to help cities and counties integrate clean energy into their redevelopment efforts, and $1.4 billion to support the development of an electric vehicle (EV) charging network. 

In response, USTelecom President/CEO Jonathan Spalter called the package “spot on.” The country needs, “a massive national commitment to improve American infrastructure—right now.” The bill includes a clear path to bring more people online and direct aid to unserved communities, according to Spalter. “Both chambers of Congress must be laser-focused on passing meaningful infrastructure legislation which will pay dividends in the form of national productivity, connectivity, and growth.”

“NTCA members continue to lead the way in deploying future-proof networks wherever possible, but the business case for building and sustaining broadband in rural areas often takes a combination of private entrepreneurship, community commitment, and resources available through programs such as those contemplated by the LIFT America Act,” said Shirley Bloomfield, CEO, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association.

Committee Chairman Pallone also announced a hearing is scheduled on the bill on Wednesday, May 22.

May 20, 2019

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