Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are airing a proposal authorizing in excess of $109 billion to expand the country’s broadband infrastructure.
While an overall Biden Administration infrastructure bill remains to be introduced, the Energy and Commerce proposal would apportion some $80 billion for the deployment of new broadband networks.
In areas of the country where networks are already in existence, the legislation would provide funding to enhance those networks, creating access points for persons who are currently lacking any internet connection in their homes.
Under the proposal, the vast majority of the $80 million would be spent via a national bidding process overseen by the Federal Communications Commission. The remaining $29 billion would be available to the states as they go about trying to bridge the digital divide.
During hearings, Frank Pallone, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, noted that the lack of broadband access has been most critical in the nation’s tribal lands during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Many tribal students, who were sent home from college and schools for their own safety, returned to homes without sufficient internet connections for video conferencing or uploading assignments,” he remarked.
An advocacy group based in Washington called Free Press recently estimated that some 77 million people in the U.S. currently lack an adequate home internet connection.
By Garry Boulard
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