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Rural Broadband Task Force Unveils Internet Connectivity Bill
Minnesota Ag Connection - 06/29/2020

Congresswoman Angie Craig joined her colleagues on the House Rural Broadband Task Force to introduce H.R. 7302, the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act. This legislation makes a bold investment of $100 billion to build high-speed broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities and ensures that the resulting internet service is affordable.

"Access to broadband is critical in a 21st century economy," said Craig. "I've talked with health care professionals, nonprofits, educators and small business owners who need these resources now more than ever. This legislation will help us expand rural broadband access so our health care professionals have access to virtual visits, students are able to connect with their educators and all of us can use digital tools to stay connected with our loved ones."

According to the most recent broadband deployment report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 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:

o including $80 billion to deploy high-speed broadband infrastructure nationwide;

o allocating $5 billion for low-interest financing of broadband deployment through a new secured loan program; and

o establishing a new office within the national telecommunications and information administration to ensure efficient use of federal money.

- Ensure internet affordability by:

o requiring an affordable option for internet service plans offered on the newly-built infrastructure;

o providing a $50 monthly discount on plans for low-income consumers; and

o directing the FCC to collect and publicize data on prices charged for broadband service throughout the country.

- Promote internet adoption by:

o 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;

o including $5 billion to enable students without internet at home to participate in remote learning; and

o 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 the Moving Forward Act, a transformational infrastructure package to create jobs rebuilding America.

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