WASHINGTON, December 1, 2023 – A House Democrat announced on Friday a bill that would fund broadband internet and devices for public parks.
The Technology in the Parks Act would expand the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program to include local parks. That program currently provides approximately $4 billion in yearly broadband subsidies for schools and libraries through the FCC’s Universal Service Fund. Adding public parks would allow them to request government money toward the cost of internet each month.
The move is “crucial to bringing broadband access to these community spaces,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Danny Davis, D-Illinois, in a statement.
In an effort to provide devices on the subsidized connection, the bill would also put parks in the U.S. General Services Administration’s Computers for Learning program. That would give parks access to computer equipment no longer being used by federal agencies.
The bill would also tap the Department of Labor to implement a grant program for “technology training programs” in local parks.
Similar programs aimed at helping people navigate and participate in online spaces are drawing funds from other federal agencies. The Commerce Department’s $42.5 billion broadband expansion program makes room for states to fund digital literacy trainings, and its $2.75 billion Digital Equity Act programs are targeted at such efforts.