Lawmakers Want Broadband Funding In Infrastructure Package
March 2, 2017
“Millions of Americans still do not have access to the internet, most of them in rural communities,” says U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chair Sen. John Thune, (R-SD). In many parts of the country, states have stepped in to pay to “continue to bridge the digital divide,” he said during Wednesday’s nearly three-hour hearing on infrastructure. Ideas generated yesterday could potentially become part of the administration’s $3 trillion infrastructure package.
“We need to explore new ways to reduce the cost of broadband deployment,” (which would include towers and antennas), said Thune, referring to his Mobile Now Act which he and Ranking Member Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) recently introduced.
It would make broadband deployment more affordable by streamlining the red tape broadband providers face and by helping to make more wireless spectrum available for mobile broadband services.
Rather than reinventing the wheel, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association CEO Shirley Bloomfield suggested regulators look at what’s working and what isn’t in terms of how carriers are incentivized to provide broadband in rural areas. “In many parts of rural America, the challenges of distance and density are so great that they cannot sustain even one broadband network.”