Funding to Close to the Digital Divide

— Telecom and utility groups are urging congressional appropriators to continue investing in rural broadband in fiscal year 2020. “The health and productivity of the people we represent throughout rural America are dependent on access to high-quality broadband,” The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, the Utilities Technology Council and nearly two dozen other groups wrote in a letter to Senate and House appropriators. The groups are pressing lawmakers to include $605 million to fund the USDA ReConnect Program, which provides loans and grants to pay for broadband in remote areas without access. “Continued direct federal investment is critical to closing the digital divide and enabling rural consumers to fully participate in our 21st Century economy and society,” they tell Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and ranking member Kay Granger (R-Texas).

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

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Sen. Tina Smith’s Broadband Play

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

Trump 2019 Budget and Broadband

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]