Gov Inslee's Plan for Thriving Rural Economies includes Expanding Rural Broadband Connectivity
August 21, 2019
Every facet of society depends on broadband connectivity. 2020 presidential candidate Gov Jay Inslee’s (D-WA) is committed to confronting the rural broadband challenge, by:
- Investing $80 billion in broadband deployment to make sure every community has access to broadband to support their schools, their hospitals, their farms, and their businesses.
- Doubling annual finance authority for the Rural Utility Service (RUS) to offer $8 billion in Treasury rate financing to hundreds of rural electric cooperatives owned by the 42 million rural residents they serve. RUS will support rural electric cops with technical assistance and federal financing for investments in smart grid technologies and their enabling broadband infrastructure, among other things.
- Making Big Tech pay into the Universal Service Fund (USF). The USF should be updated into a broadband rural subsidy program by broadening the base of contributors. Currently the fund is financed through interstate phone call minutes and, as a result, revenue into the fund is dwindling. This funding is essential for ongoing support of the High Cost, Lifeline, E-Rate, and Rural Healthcare facilities.
- Expanding broadband access for Tribal nations. Inslee’s Accessible Broadband plan will commit billions to guarantee that every tribal nation has access to quality internet.
- Ensuring affordable broadband, by providing $5 billion in subsidies to low-income rural Americans to make sure internet is affordable even in these hard-to-serve areas. If private companies will not provide broadband service, Inslee will work with public entities to create community broadband access.
- Restoring Net Neutrality. As Governor, Jay Inslee signed the first state law protecting net neutrality. As president, Inslee will reinstate net neutrality to protect the internet for everyone. Gov Inslee commits to only appointing FCC commissioners that support net neutrality.
- Removing barriers to locally owned and created broadband networks. Every community should have the ability to build a broadband network — and local control and ownership can deliver more local benefit. Some telecommunications giants have convinced states to bar local internet providers, and currently a number of states ban public utilities or municipalities from offering broadband services. Governor Inslee will remove those arbitrary restrictions and allow every provider willing to meet core accessibility standards the ability to provide internet.
- Supporting a nationwide public safety network, FirstNet, which has received $7 billion in federal investment, to date — a start, but not enough to complete the network. Additional funds are needed to speed up the construction of this important network. In addition, many 911 call centers cannot manage the load of text messages and often cannot support video, which can leave first responders in dangerous situations. Governor Inslee’s plan will invest in local 911 call center upgrades, especially in rural communities.
- Ensuring school broadband access, through investment in and greater accessibility to the federal E-Rate program.
- Ensuring union jobs and prevailing wages. Gov Inslee will make sure all rural broadband projects – like every federally-funded infrastructure project – pay a prevailing wage and use Project Labor Agreements and Community Benefit Agreements.
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