From Multichannel News:
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) has introduced The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act, the Senate version of a House bill that would invest $100 billion to build broadband in underserved areas as well as requiring an “affordable” broadband offering from anyone getting those build-out bucks.
The House version was introduced last week by Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), whose daughter, Mignon Clyburn, is the former FCC chair who has made closing the digital divide a priority in her post-FCC work.
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In the Senate, the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act is cosponsored by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).
“When we invest in broadband infrastructure, we invest in opportunity for every American,” Klobuchar said. “In 2020, we should be able to bring high-speed internet to every family in America — regardless of their zip code — and this legislation is a critical step to help bridge the digital divide once and for all.”
The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act would do the following:
Encourage Universal Broadband Access by:
- including $80 billion to deploy high-speed broadband infrastructure nationwide;
- allocating $5 billion for low-interest financing of broadband deployment through a new secured loan program; and
- establishing a new office within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to ensure efficient use of federal money.
Ensure Internet Affordability by:
- requiring an affordable option for internet service plans offered on the newly-built infrastructure;
- providing a $50 monthly discount on plans for low-income consumers; and
- directing the FCC to collect and publicize data on prices charged for broadband service throughout the country.
Promote Internet Adoption by:
- providing over $1 billion to establish grant programs for states to close gaps in broadband adoption, as well as digital inclusion projects for organizations and local communities to implement;
- including $5 billion to enable students without internet at home to participate in remote learning; and
- authorizing funding for Wi-Fi on school buses so students can stay connected, especially in rural areas where longer bus rides are common.
The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act is endorsed by the Public Knowledge, Free Press, National Consumer Law Center, New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, Consumer Reports, Schools, Health, Libraries, and Broadband Coalition (SHLB), Common Cause, Benton Institute for Broadband and Society, , Leadership Conference, Access Now, Electronic Frontier Foundation, National Digital Inclusion Alliance, National Education Association, National Defense Industrial Association, Communications Workers of America, and North America’s Building Trades Union.
- Legislation Tracker: H.R. 7302: To make high-speed broadband internet service accessible and affordable to all Americans, and for other purposes.
- Legislation Tracker: S. 3071 Supporting Connectivity for Higher Education Students in Need Act