Senators Urge Funding for Broadband Mapping and Securing Communications Infrastructure

December 7, 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Todd Young, R-Ind., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., along with 13 other senators today sent a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, urging full funding for the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act and the Broadband DATA Act, as Congress completes the appropriations process for FY2021. 

The letter was also signed by Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Richard Burr, R-N.C., Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Steve Daines, R-Mont., Angus King, I-Maine, David Perdue, R-Ga., James Risch, R-Idaho, Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

Read the full letter here:

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Chairman Shelby, and Vice Chairman Leahy:

As Congress completes the appropriations process for FY2021, we urge you to provide full funding for Public Law 116-124, the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act, and Public Law 116-130, the Broadband DATA Act.   

Closing the digital divide and winning the race to 5G are critical to America’s economic prosperity and global leadership in technology. However, our ability to connect all Americans and provide access to next-generation technology will depend in large part on the security of our communications infrastructure. The Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act (“rip and replace”) created a program to help small, rural telecommunications operators remove equipment posing a security threat to domestic networks and replace it with equipment from trusted providers. This is a national security imperative. Fully funding this program is essential to protecting the integrity of our communications infrastructure and the future viability of our digital economy at large.

In addition to safeguarding the security of the nation’s communications systems, developing accurate broadband maps is also critically important. The United States faces a persistent digital divide, and closing this divide requires accurate maps that show where broadband is available and where it is not. Current maps overstate broadband availability, which prevents many underserved communities, particularly in rural areas, from receiving the funds needed to build or expand broadband networks to millions of unconnected Americans. Fully funding the Broadband DATA Act will ensure more accurate broadband maps and better stewardship over the millions of dollars the federal government awards each year to support broadband deployment. Without these maps, the government risks overbuilding existing networks, duplicating funding already provided, and leaving communities unserved.  

Broadband is an essential asset in the modern world. As more aspects of life move online, Congress needs to ensure Americans have access to secure connectivity. Providing funding for rip and replace and broadband mapping will help achieve this goal.  

Thank you for considering this request. We look forward to working with you to secure this funding.