Reps Upton, Clyburn Introduce “Rural Broadband Acceleration Act” to Speed Up Access to High-Speed Internet in Rural America
Rep Fred Upton (R-MI) and House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-SC) announced the introduction of the “Rural Broadband Acceleration Act,” bipartisan legislation that directs the Federal Communications Commission to fund shovel-ready, high-speed internet projects immediately, so consumers can access broadband within a year. Roughly one in four rural households cannot connect to the internet, and it is often too slow and too expensive for the households who do have access. The Rural Broadband Acceleration Act directs the FCC to accelerate the deployment of funds to bidders in the upcoming Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) that commit to: 1) build a gigabit tier broadband network; 2) begin construction within 6 months of receiving funding; and 3) provide internet service within a year. As Rep Clyburn put it, the bill essentially tells the FCC to “speed up what you’re already planning to do.”
In April, in an open letter to the Congress, the CEOs of more than 70 rural electric cooperatives committed to fiber-to-the-premise construction projects if the Clyburn-Upton proposal was adopted. In recent weeks, other rural phone and electric co-ops have also expressed support. One hundred co-op fiber projects would result in 300,000 miles of fiber construction, passing more than 2 million rural homes, and 5 million rural residents. The economic impact is projected to be $8.25 billion of construction, approximately half of which would come from RDOF and half from the co-ops investing in their local communities. At one hundred new projects, this initiative would lead to 240,000 new construction jobs, plus years of attendant economic activity from these construction workers living and working in these areas. It is estimated that as many as 200 projects would take advantage of this expedited funding schedule.
Reps Upton, Clyburn Introduce “Rural Broadband Acceleration Act” to Speed Up Access to High-Speed Internet in Rural America Summary of the bill Text of bill Senior House Lawmakers Push to Speed Up Broadband Funding (WSJ)