WASHINGTON – Congressman Dave Loebsack on Wednesday joined House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (SC-06), members of the House Rural Broadband Task Force and 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.
“It is imperative that every home and business, no matter where they are located, have access to high-speed broadband,” said Rep. Loebsack. “I am pleased to have worked with Whip Clyburn and the other members of the Rural Broadband Taskforce to put together this legislation that will help connect folks living and working in rural areas with the high-speed internet they need to work, learn and play. I look forward to working with my colleagues to help pass this important legislation to expand access and help close the digital divide.”
“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. The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act currently has over 30 cosponsors.