“Too many of our communities and small businesses still lack access to broadband infrastructure, and many that have access do not subscribe to the services that are offered. In both cases, communities that lack adequate broadband availability face the prospect of lagging behind other areas in education, economic growth, and even health care delivery,” said Sen. Hutchison. “Broadband deployment is a national priority requiring a comprehensive approach that encourages private sector investment in our unserved areas and reform of existing federal programs to make sure we are spending scarce public resources in the most effective way. We must also take steps to increase adoption of broadband technology by individuals, educational institutions, small businesses, and health care providers. My legislation provides this framework and allows local communities to play a bigger role in determining the technology and infrastructure that best suits their needs.”
The bill would also create a technology-neutral bond program that will allow communities, rather than federal bureaucrats, to raise funds for construction, assess their own infrastructure needs, and adopt the broadband technologies that are most appropriate. The legislation would also reform and streamline the numerous federal programs supporting broadband to focus broadband deployment funding in a coordinated manner.
The Administration earmarked $7.2 billion for broadband deployment in the stimulus bill. However, the funding was made available before the Federal Communications Commission finished mapping broadband availability or completing a comprehensive national broadband plan.
“This taxpayer investment must be maximized by directing grants to unserved areas and focusing on community access points. We must approach broadband deployment in a more thoughtful and comprehensive way in the future, and start by meaningfully engaging the investment and expertise of the private sector,” said Sen. Hutchison.
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