Federal legislation on broadband – but how to fund it?

The Albert Lea Tribune recently ran an article that outlines the broadband portions of a recent law tat supports rural infrastructure. I’ve just pulled out the portions of the article that relate to broadband…

Last month, a bill was signed into law that would increase funding for rural broadband deployment and transportation infrastructure.

The legislation signed into law reportedly includes $600 million for rural broadband deployment. The signed legislation reportedly includes Klobuchar’s bills to connect communities across Minnesota and the United States with affordable internet access, including provisions based on  Rural Spectrum Accessibility Act legislation she introduced and her bill to encourage states to coordinate highway construction projects with broadband providers so broadband infrastructure can be installed at once.

“Our 21st century economy demands 21st century infrastructure, and that requires investments in roads, bridges, airports and rural broadband,” Klobuchar said. “This crucial funding will not only connect communities across our state physically but also digitally — bringing high speed internet to even more Minnesotans.

“The inclusion of my legislation to streamline development will reduce the costs of building new infrastructure and help expand wireless coverage in our rural areas, a necessity for our families and businesses.”

More info on broadband…

The bill also includes provisions Klobuchar introduced to reduce regulations and streamline the broadband deployment process, encourage collaboration between large and small carriers to bridge service gaps in rural areas and boost broadband infrastructure investments.

The legislation directs the Federal Communications Commission to conduct rulemaking on opportunities for large carriers to lease unused spectrum to rural and smaller carriers and encourage collaboration between companies to bridge service gaps in rural areas, and streamline broadband deployment on federal land to increase broadband infrastructure investments in rural communities near federal land.

Miller said it makes sense to install broadband during road construction projects so such roads do not have to be dug up twice.

“It’s a great concept,” she said. “It’s a great idea. If the world was a little more sustainable where we could plan for that money, I think it could work really, really well.”

And more…

Last May, Klobuchar — a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and co-chairwoman of the Senate Broadband Caucus — and Sens. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, introduced a bill to expand broadband deployment using accurate coverage maps.

Last April, Klobuchar and Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska, led a bipartisan group of 56 senators urging the Federal Communications Commission to continue advancing broadband deployment in rural communities.

In 2017, Klobuchar and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, introduced legislation to measure the economic impact broadband has on the U.S. economy. Klobuchar, Capito and Sens. Angus King, Heidi Heitkamp and John Boozman led 48 senators in urging the Trump administration to include broadband funding in any infrastructure initiative.

Miller said though sufficiently funding transportation is agreed by both major parties, there remains the need to have a sufficient funding source.

“The funny thing about transportation is all the Republicans, all the Democrats, whoever is the president, they all agree that we need a good, sound transportation network,” she said. “They all have great plans of what they want that transportation plan to look like — where we always fall apart is how are we going to fund it. How are we going to pay for it?”

This entry was posted in Policy, Rural by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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