Accessible, Affordable Internet for All

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This is the name of an ambitious Act recently introduced in Congress by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Congressman James Clyburn (D- SC). It is intended to close the digital divide by investing over $94 billion in broadband facilities for unserved and underserved areas of America.

The proposed Act would authorize 1) $80 billion to deploy high speed broadband nationwide; 2) $5 billion for low interest financing of broadband through a new secured loan program; and 3) an additional $6 billion for the Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund, which provides a $50 monthly discount on the internet plans of low-income Americans anywhere, or $75 on tribal lands.

In addition, it would provide over $1 billion to establish grant programs for states to close gaps in broadband adoption, and $2 billion to enable students without home internet to participate in remote learning. It also would authorize funding for Wi-Fi on school buses to allow rural students with longer rides to “stay connected.”

The Act would establish a new office within NTIA to ensure the efficient use of federal money. With over $94 billion at stake, this sounds like a fine idea.

We commend the sponsors of this act for making a major effort to address the digital divide. It will be interesting to watch it progress through Congress.