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Press Release: Rep. Paul Tonko Reintroduces House-Passed Bill to Increase Broadband Access in Underserved Areas

Drew Clark

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Bipartisan ACCESS BROADBAND Act would improve coordination and community access to federal broadband resources

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2019 – Representatives Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Susan Brooks, R-Ind., announced the introduction of H.R. 1328: the ACCESS BROADBAND Act today, bipartisan legislation that would expand broadband access in underserved areas and create a simpler process for small businesses and local economic developers to access federal broadband resources.

“Reliable access to the internet is vital to our economy and way of life, whether for students doing homework, job seekers training for a new career, doctors reading a medical scan or entrepreneurs starting a small business,” said Tonko. “Despite its importance, federal resources supporting broadband expansion are poorly tracked with little coordination across agencies or departments that are doing this work, making it harder our local businesses and community leaders to access them. This bill is a step towards better broadband access for our communities and better government for all of us.”

“Hoosiers and Americans across the country who live in rural communities need better access to the internet so they can live and prosper in the 21st century economy,” said Brooks. “Currently, pursuing and managing federal broadband resources is overly burdensome for small businesses and communities as they search and manage multiple federal agencies’ application processes. The ACCESS BROADBAND Act will simplify this process for small businesses and local communities and will facilitate their interaction with government agencies as they apply for federal broadband assistance in order to bring internet connectivity to their communities.”

A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Doug Jones, D-Ala., Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

“Far too many communities across Nevada still lack access to high speed broadband,” said Cortez Masto. “The ACCESS BROADBAND Act enhances the federal government’s ability to support the expansion of wireless services and broadband infrastructure essential to helping underserved communities in Nevada, and across America get connected. I look forward to acting on this legislation to lay the groundwork for 5G networks that serve the needs of first responders, businesses and local school districts that need fast, reliable internet. Nevada is the Innovation State, and in order for us to continue being leaders, our communities must have access to high quality broadband that provides our communities with the 21st century infrastructure they need to thrive.”

The bill would also fund local training workshops to help small businesses and economic developers put federal broadband resources to work. The bill is cosponsored by 14 of Tonko’s colleagues in the House of Representatives including 7 Republicans. Similar legislation passed in the House in the 115th Congress but was never taken up in the Senate.

The ACCESS BROADBAND Act:

  • Stands for Advancing Critical Connectivity Expands Service, Small Businesses Resources, Opportunities, Access, and Data Based on Assessed Need and Demand
  • Establishes an Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
    • Directs this office to simplify access for small businesses and local communities, possibly including small business workshops and other support resources.
    • Streamlines process for small businesses & local governments to apply for federal broadband assistance; improves coordination across government and the private sector.

Source: Tonko Reintroduces House-Passed Bill to Increase Broadband Access in Underserved Areas : Congressman Paul Tonko

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