A bill introduced by U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jackie Rosen (D-NV) will help ensure that rural Americans finally have access to the same fast and reliable broadband services as their urban counterparts. So says their press release announcing this key legislative initiative.
The bipartisan American Broadband Buildout Act (ABBA) is designed to close the digital divide by providing up to $15 Billion to help states and state-approved entities build critical last mile infrastructure in remote, rural, agrarian and tribal America.
Their press release rightfully points out that, “The current pandemic has brought these connectivity issues into stark relief as many Americans have had to move their studies, health care services and workplaces online.”
Key provisions of the bill include 1.) projects must be undertaken in “unserved” areas, defined as those where broadband is unavailable at speeds that meet FCC standards, and 2.) any federal funding must be matched by private-public partnerships between the broadband service provider and the state, to assure that plans are well thought-out, sustainable, and efficient.
It is gratifying to see the emergence of a bipartisan plan to help rural Americans, at a time when there is so much rampant bickering and blind partisanship on so many other key issues.