Benton Foundation reports…
Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Doug Jones (D-AL) introduced the American Broadband Buildout Act of 2019 (ABBA), a bipartisan bill to ensure that rural Americans have access to broadband services at speeds they need to fully participate in the modern society and economy by directing the Federal Communications Commission to provide up to $5 billion in matching grants to help states improve broadband infrastructure. The American Broadband Buildout Act of 2019 would:
- Require that projects that receive funding must be located in “unserved” areas, where broadband is unavailable at speeds that meet the FCC’s standard. Narrowing the focus to these areas will ensure that the money goes where it is needed most, and will also protect against “over-building” where broadband infrastructure is already in place.
- Require that this federal funding be matched through public-private partnerships between the broadband service provider and the state in which the infrastructure project will be built.
- Require that projects be designed to be “future proof,” meaning that the infrastructure installed must be capable of delivering higher-speeds as broadband accelerates in the future.
- Direct the FCC to prioritize the funding of projects in states that have traditionally lagged behind the national average in terms of broadband subscribers and are at risk of falling further behind as broadband speeds increase.
- Provide grants to states and state-designated entities for digital literacy and public awareness campaigns highlighting the benefits and possibilities of broadband service.
Parts of this plan sound very much like the Minnesota Border to Border Broadband grant program.