Welch introduces $80 billion broadband expansion bill

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Welch introduces $80 billion broadband expansion bill

Tue, 03/09/2021 - 4:45pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Representative Peter Welch (D-Vermont) Tuesday introduced legislation to connect every household in America with high-speed broadband service capable of supporting remote schooling, online businesses and remote work, telehealth appointments, and entertainment streaming. The most recent Federal Communications Commission Broadband Deployment Report indicates that 18 million people lack access to broadband service.

The Vermont Department of Public Service estimates that nearly 70,000 Vermont households lack access to broadband with at least 25 megabits per second download and 3 megabits per second upload speeds. Most experts agree that the FCC report understates the lack of broadband access across the country. 

“The digital divide is real and has only widened since the start of the COVID pandemic,” said Welch. “There is no disputing that fast, reliable broadband service is essential in our modern economy. After a year of remote schooling, online medical appointments, and family Zoom calls, the need for high-speed internet for all Americans is even more clear. This bill will include enough resources to make sure that all Americans, no matter their zip code, have access to a ‘future proof’ broadband connection.”

The bill authorizes $79.5 billion to expand broadband access to unserved and underserved households. 75 percent of the money is reserved for expanding coverage in underserved communities with access to less than 100 megabits per second upload and download speeds. The other 25 percent of the money will be distributed to state governments to launch local broadband buildout programs in each state. The bill includes a minimum of $100 million for small states and determines broadband buildout on new, accurate maps of broadband coverage. The bill also includes an authorization of $500 million for the NTIA Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program and $100 million to United States territories.

Rep. Welch is a senior member of Majority Whip Jim Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) Broadband Task Force and consulted closely with Whip Clyburn and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) while crafting this legislation. He is also a founding co-chair of the bipartisan House Rural Broadband Caucus and a member of the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee.

Source: WASHINGTON – Rep. Peter Welch 3.9.2021