Ever since Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) assumed her seat at the start of 2018, she talked up her goals for expanding broadband access, and on Thursday she unveiled legislation to help codify and tweak Agriculture Department grants aimed at spurring internet connectivity. Her bill would authorize the Community Connect grant program at $50 million annually.
Source: POLITICO Morning Tech
Page 27: Department of Agriculture
Promotes E-connectivity in Rural Areas.
Electronic connectivity is fundamental for economic development, innovation, advancements in technology, workforce readiness, and an improved quality of life—reasons why such access was identified as a critical component by the Task Force. Unfortunately, access to affordable high-speed internet in rural and tribal areas still lags behind that of urban areas. Tremendous opportunities are unlocked when next generation networks connect rural communities, allowing doctors to reach patients, students to access knowledge, and small businesses to expand with access to online marketing, credit card processing, and online banking. To provide rural communities with modern information access, the Budget proposes $30 million to fund broadband grants, $23 million in broadband loans, and $24 million to fund distance learning and telemedicine grants.
[Emphasis added by editor]