House Passes Rural Broadband Deployment Bill

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The House passed and sent to the Senate yesterday H.R. 1328, the Advancing Critical Connectivity Expands Service, Small Businesses Resources, Opportunities, Access, and Data Based on Assessed Need and Demand (ACCESS BROADBAND) Act.

The measure, sponsored by Reps. Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Susan Brooks (R-WI), establishes an office of Internet Connectivity and Growth at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, to coordinate and track federal funding for broadband across all agencies. This office would streamline the process of applying for federal funding for projects that expand broadband access.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) called the bill, “an important piece of the puzzle to help close the digital divide by coordinating federal broadband programs to ensure federal investments are targeted at unserved areas. I hope we can soon consider an NTIA reauthorization, which is sorely needed to effectuate the goals of this bill,” Walden said.

USTelecom praised Tonko and Brooks, stating they understand that “deploying broadband and increasing internet access across America requires collaboration between providers and government and a smart use of valuable – and scarce – federal dollars.” The bill also avoids network overbuilding. USTelecom urged the Senate to take up a companion bill by Senator Cortez Masto (D-NV).

May 9, 2019

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