RCRC: Rural Broadband Legislation Passed

This week, the House passed two pieces of legislation that would promote rural broadband. HR 3994, the Access Broadband Act, would create the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth (OICG) within the Department of Commerce. HR 4881, the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018, would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish the Task Force for Meeting Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States.

The OICG would streamline the application process for broadband deployment projects seeking federal funds. The office will:

  • Connect with communities that need access to high-speed internet and improved digital inclusion efforts;
  • Hold regional workshops to share best practices and effective strategies for promoting broadband access and adoption;
  • Develop targeted broadband training and presentations for various demographic communities through media;
  • Develop and distribute publications providing guidance to communities for expanding broadband access and adoption; and
  • Track construction and use of any broadband infrastructure built using federal support.

HR 4881, the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018, would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish the Task Force for Meeting Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States. The task force would be responsible for measuring internet coverage gaps of cropland and ranchland, particularly in rural areas. Based on these findings, the task force would then recommend policies and legislation to expand broadband internet service for cropland and ranchland. Precision agriculture practices utilize 21st century data and technology to increase productivity for farmers and growers. HR 4881’s supporters argue precision agriculture will promote employment and economic prosperity for rural communities.

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