U.S. lawmakers introduce bill to make high-speed internet accessible to everyone
A new bill aims to make high-speed internet more accessible anywhere in the United States, including in remote areas and underserved communities. House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn introduced the Internet law accessible and affordable for all (PDF), which will spend $ 94 billion to ensure that poor and unserved communities have access to high-speed Internet. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, also introduced the bill in the Senate.
Of its total budget, $ 80 billion will be spent on deploying broadband infrastructure nationwide, while prioritizing unserved and underserved rural, suburban and urban areas. Providers whose networks were built from this money will then be required to offer affordable plans to consumers. The bill will also authorize spending of $ 5 billion over five years for a new program that would provide low-interest financing for broadband infrastructure construction projects. The Broadband Emergency Benefit, which offers a monthly reduction of $ 50 on Internet plans for low-income Americans and $ 75 for customers on tribal lands, will receive an additional $ 6 billion in funding. $ 2 billion will go to the Emergency Connectivity Fund for Students Who Need an Internet Connection, and some of the money will also go to fund WiFi on school buses.
In the lawmakers’ announcement, they said the legislation was the product of extensive collaboration between the Clyburn’s House Rural Broadband Task Force, Chairman Frank Pallone of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senator Klobuchar.
Clyburn said in a statement:
“Access to broadband today will have the same dramatic impact on rural communities as the rural electrification efforts of the last century.” When I formed the Rural Broadband Task Force, our mission was to bridge the digital divide. The disparate effects of this divide were amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic and revealed the urgency of ensuring universal high-speed internet access. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to enact the Accessible and Affordable Internet for All Act. “