Kuster Joins Rural Broadband Task Force to Introduce Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act
Concord, NH – Today, Rep. Annie Kuster (NH-02), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Rural Broadband Task Force, joined House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (SC-06), members of the House Rural Broadband Task Force and other House Democrats to introduce the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act, which invests $100 billion to build high-speed broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities and ensure that the resulting internet service is affordable.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for all Americans to have a reliable internet connection as students have moved from classrooms to remote learning, patients are receiving telehealth care from the safety of their own homes, and many employees are working remotely,” said Rep. Kuster. “While this public health emergency has underscored the broadband needs of many communities, having a reliable internet connection will continue to be essential as we move past this pandemic and begin our ‘new normal.’ I’m proud to help introduce this commonsense legislation to help ensure that vulnerable and underserved communities have the internet connection they need to thrive. I will continue working to support Granite Staters and people across the country throughout this public health crisis."
“Over a year ago, I formed the House Rural Broadband Task Force with the goal of bringing affordable high-speed internet to 100 percent of Americans,” said Whip Clyburn. “Since then, the disparity between those served and unserved has become clearer. In my home state alone, nearly 1 in 10 South Carolina households lack access to a reliable broadband connection. That is why I am proud that the Rural Broadband Task Force, in collaboration with members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, crafted the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act to address this issue once and for all.”
According to the Federal Communications Commission’s 2020 Broadband Deployment Report, 18 million people lack access to broadband, and experts widely agree that this number is understated.
The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act would do the following:
- Encourage Universal Broadband Access by:
- including $80 billion to deploy broadband infrastructure nationwide;
- allocating $5 billion for low-interest financing of broadband deployment through a new secured loan program; and
- establishing a new office within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to ensure efficient use of federal money.
- Ensure Internet Affordability by:
- requiring an affordable option for internet service plans offered on the newly-built infrastructure;
- providing a $50 monthly discount on plans for low-income consumers; and
- directing the FCC to collect and publicize data on prices charged for broadband service throughout the country.
- Promote Internet Adoption by:
- providing over $1 billion to establish grant programs for states to close gaps in broadband adoption, as well as digital inclusion projects for organizations and local communities to implement;
- including $5 billion to enable students without internet at home to participate in remote learning; and
- authorizing funding for Wi-Fi on school buses so students can stay connected, especially in rural areas where longer bus rides are common.
This legislation is the product of extensive collaboration between the House Rural Broadband Task Force and members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and is included in House Democrats’ Moving Forward Act, a transformational infrastructure package to create jobs rebuilding America.
- Text of the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act is here.
- A Section by Section is here.
- A Fact Sheet is here.