Senate Kicks Off Series of Infrastructure Hearings With Focus on Broadband
The Senate Commerce Committee kicked off a series of infrastructure hearings March 13 with one focused on broadband, including a big focus on collecting accurate date about where broadband is, and more importantly, isn't. Sen Roger Wicker (R-MS) presided over the hearing, "Rebuilding Infrastructure in America: Investing in Next Generation Broadband", saying he was greatly encouraged by the President Donald Trump's support for programs to increase broadband infrastructure in rural areas. While the President said getting broadband to farmers was a priority, he didn't actually earmark any funds for broadband in his infrastructure plan, though he did say that $50 million would be going to rural infrastructure, with states free to use all or part of that for broadband.
Committee Ranking Member Bill Nelson (D-FL) pointed out that he and his colleagues had wanted direct investments in broadband to be part of any infrastructure plan and called the Trump proposal -- $200 billion in federal funds for all infrastructure, with $50 billion for rural, but no direct earmarks for broadband and the hope that the private sector leverages that $200 billion into a $1.5 trillion rebuild/buildout -- "simply inadequate on broadband expansion." He signaled it was up to the Senate Commerce Committee to step up and fill that void with "critical" direct investment in broadband, something Democrats have done in their own infrastructure proposal to the tune of $40 billion.
Senate Kicks Off Series of Infrastructure Hearings With Focus on Broadband Rebuilding Infrastructure in America: Investing in Next Generation Broadband (Hearing Page)