Up to $7 billion in new federal funding is a part of the sweeping $900 billion coronavirus bill on the verge of being passed by Congress.
Included in the broadband-related spending is $1 billion in grants for Tribal broadband construction, and $300 million to fund rural broadband deployment.
The legislation additionally includes $285 million for a pilot program designed to build broadband in historically black colleges and universities communities.
The broadband funding, notes Forbes, is particularly important “given how the coronavirus pandemic has affected the way we work, live, learn, and live.”
According to a recent survey of more than 10,300 people conducted by the Pew Research Center, 71% of workers this fall said they were working remotely, with the vast majority using such services as Zoom and Cisco Webex.
Some $3.2 billion is also being set aside in the bill to fund broadband connectivity for those with lower incomes.
Matt Wood, general counsel with the social media site Free Press, told the publication Broadband Communities that the $3.2 billion is a direct response to the “lack of affordable broadband choices, which is the primary factor driving the U.S. digital divide.”
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a prime force behind the $3.2 billion move, remarked in a statement: “Ensuring working families can stay online will pay massive dividends for kids’ education, helping people find jobs, and jump-starting the economic recovery next year.”
Lawmakers have given particular praise to another segment of the massive 5,600-page bill that provides up to $1.9 billion in reimbursements for what are known as “rip and replace” efforts designed to remove Huawei and ZTE corporation equipment from US networks.
Both Huawei and ZTE, based in China, have been accused by the US government of potentially fostering espionage activity.
By Garry Boulard
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