US New Deal Rural Broadband Act of 2017 – #20 million for broadband

According to a press release from Representative Huffman..,

Congressmen Jared Huffman (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Rick Nolan (D-MN) introduced the New Deal Rural Broadband Act of 2017, an ambitious plan to connect every American home, business, and school to high-speed, reliable broadband internet that is based on Roosevelt’s New Deal rural electrification model. The legislation would expand access to broadband internet in rural communities in Huffman’s North Coast congressional district, and across the nation, through increased investments in broadband infrastructure, improved programs to support tribal communities in broadband development, and the establishment of a new Office of Rural Broadband Initiatives to better coordinate all Federal rural broadband deployment programs.

In 2016, according to the Federal Communications Commission, 39% of rural America and 41% of those living on Tribal land lacked access to advanced broadband, defined as 25 Mbps/3 Mbps. By comparison, only 10% of the country as a whole lack access to advanced broadband.

Minnesota’s Rep Nolan said…

“Rural America has waited long enough for high-speed broadband,”  Rep. Nolan said. “It’s a necessity required to start new businesses, create new good-paying jobs, help our small town rural economy grow, and modernize the education and health care services so essential to quality of life. I’m proud to join my colleague in introducing this legislation to connect tens

 

The new deal fits with the $20 million in infrastructure investment I mentioned a week ago, but goes into greater detail…

The New Deal Rural Broadband Act would:

  • Establish a new Office of Rural Broadband Initiatives to coordinate and centralize all Federal rural broadband programs;
  • Authorize $20 billion for new broadband infrastructure focused on rural communities and those without adequate access;
  • Authorize a new Tribal Broadband Assistance Program to support tribal communities in broadband deployment;
  • Improve and modernize the Telecommunications Loan and Loan Guarantee Program to increase eligibility, allow greater flexibility, and break down federal agency broadband “silos”;
  • Authorize the Rural Utility Service (RUS) to offer broadband grants in addition to loans and loan guarantees to provide small communities with the seed funds needed to compete in loan applications or develop commercially attractive proposals and increase overall (RUS) broadband investment from $25 million to $50 million annually; and
  • Establish an inventory of Federal and State assets on which a broadband facility could be constructed and;
  •          Provide land management agencies with cooperative agreement and fee retention authority for telecommunications rights-of-way to leverage public lands for broadband deployment
This entry was posted in Funding, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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