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House of Representatives

House Democrats Propose Broadband and Smart Energy Infrastructure Deployment Bill

Jericho Casper

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Photo of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in June 2019 by Gage Skidmore used with permission

June 22, 2020 — On Monday, House Democrats announced the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill aimed at creating millions of jobs, while rebuilding American communities with infrastructure that is “smarter, safer and made to last.”

The bill aims to address long-standing disparities in infrastructure across different communities. It attempts to fund preservation of crucial roads, bridges and transit systems, while also reinvigorating schools, housing, broadband access, the clean energy sector and more.

Some of the many provisions attempting to correct structural challenges are specifically targeted at closing the digital divide.

The proposal would invest $100 billion to promote competitive broadband internet infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities, prioritizing communities in persistent poverty.

To address remote learning issues, the bill calls for the provision of necessary digital devices to students.

The funding would also aid public entities attempting to connect students who lack internet access at home. House Democrats proposed utilizing the planned federal funds to connect more school buses to Wi-Fi and provide other technology that schools and libraries require to close the homework gap.

The proposed federal funds would also enhance payment support to low-income households for internet service and closing the digital skills gap that exists within the country.

The proposed bill highlights the potential of broadband deployment to be a green strategy, as the use of diverse broadband-driven applications could reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption.

A large portion of the proposed fund, which goes hand-in-hand with broadband deployment, dedicates $70 billion to improving clean energy by modernizing energy grids to more renewable Smart Communities infrastructure.

In the continued transition to a highly connected world, ubiquitous broadband is essential to lead in environment sustainability.

Among positively impacting a slew of other infrastructure arenas, the proposed bill holds the potential to increase broadband penetration, while utilizing broadband infrastructure to simultaneously deploy clean energy technology.

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