Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Mike Doyle (14th District of Pennsylvania)
Washington, DC – April 30, 2020 – U.S. Representative Mike Doyle (PA-18) joined House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn, Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, and members of the Energy & Commerce Committee and the Rural Broadband Task Force to announce the House Democratic Plan to Connect All Americans to Affordable Broadband Internet.
Democrats welcome recent reports that some Republicans support the inclusion of broadband investment in the next coronavirus response package. This plan will accomplish the goal of delivering affordable access to high-quality internet to all Americans.
“Now, more than ever, broadband is essential for participation in our economy and our democracy,” Chairman Doyle said. “It is the glue that is holding our communities together as people work from home and communicate with friends and loved ones. Tens of millions of students are learning from home right now, and an estimated 7 million of them live in homes without broadband access.
“Far too many low income and rural communities either can’t afford access or don’t have it at all. Our nation needs to get these kids and these communities connected before they fall further behind. I’ve worked to address these inequities for years, and I’ve called for substantial federal investment to bridge the digital divide. I’m proud to join with my colleagues in offering this comprehensive plan, and I commend the leadership of my good friend and our Whip Jim Clyburn in offering up this proposal.”
The House Democratic Plan to Connect All Americans to Affordable Broadband Internet contains several provisions to invest in internet infrastructure and ensure internet affordability and adoption, including:
Invest in Internet Infrastructure
- Deploy High-Speed Broadband – Invests $80 billion over five years to deploy secure and resilient broadband infrastructure to expand access for communities nationwide, connecting unserved and underserved rural, suburban, and urban areas across the country while prioritizing persistent poverty communities.
- Offer Low-Interest Financing for Broadband Deployment – Invests $5 billion over five years for low-interest financing of broadband 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.
- Dig Once – Promotes the installation of broadband conduit during the construction of any road receiving federal funding to facilitate the building of broadband network infrastructure.
- Invest Federal Funds Efficiently – Establishes the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, responsible for coordinating with other federal agencies to streamline the application processes for broadband funding programs; ensure that broadband-related support is being administered in an efficient, technology-neutral, and financially sustainable manner; and track all federal money used for construction and use of broadband infrastructure.
Ensure Internet Affordability
- Promote Competition – Gives preference in awarding funding to broadband builds that will provide open access to new infrastructure to allow additional providers to use taxpayer funded infrastructure on fair terms to provide more options to consumers.
- Require an Affordable Option – Requires internet service providers whose networks are built with new federal funding to offer at least one affordable option.
- Enhance Payment Support – Increases existing payment support for consumers, expands eligibility for and applicability of support, and eliminates barriers to helping low-income and recently unemployed Americans afford broadband access.
- Protect Local Options – Guarantees the right of local governments, public-private partnerships, and cooperatives to deliver broadband service, which has lowered prices in many communities.
- Gather Pricing Data – Directs the Federal Communications Commission to collect data on prices charged for broadband service throughout the country and make that data widely available with appropriate privacy protections.
- Learn More Information – Directs the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth to conduct a study on the extent to which cost remains a barrier to broadband adoption and the feasibility of providing additional targeted federal subsidies to offset costs for low-income households.
Enable Internet Adoption
- Promoting Broadband Adoption and Digital Skills – Provides over $1 billion to establish the State Digital Equity Capacity Program, an annual grant program for states to create and implement comprehensive digital equity plans to help close gaps in broadband adoption and digital skills, and to also establish the Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program to further support these efforts through digital inclusion projects undertaken by individual organizations and local communities.
- Lend Mobile Hotspots – Provides for the rapid deployment of mobile hotspots and other internet-connected devices to enable students without internet at home to participate in remote learning and complete homework assignments requiring an internet connection.
- Connect School Buses – Authorizes funding for Wi-Fi on school buses so that students can be connected, especially in rural areas where long bus rides are common.