Technology And Broadband
Too many Americans are being left behind by the digital divide that persists in rural America and Native American territories. That’s why I previously introduced the New Deal Rural Broadband Act of 2017, an ambitious plan to connect every American home, business, and school to high-speed, reliable broadband internet that is based on Roosevelt’s New Deal rural electrification model. The legislation would expand access to broadband internet in rural communities in my North Coast congressional district and across the nation through increased investments in broadband infrastructure, improved programs to support tribal communities in broadband development, and the establishment of a new Office of Rural Broadband Initiatives to better coordinate all Federal rural broadband deployment programs.
I also have worked to close the digital divide through the introduction of the Public Lands Telecommunications Act, which aims to expand 21st century broadband infrastructure to every home, school, and business on the North Coast by providing agencies like the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest service with the resources to partner with industry and community leaders to achieve this goal.
Many of these proposed broadband improvements were included in the 2018 Farm Bill, including:
- Increased funding for Rural Utilities Service grant and loan programs to $350 million for 2019-2020;
- Annual allocations of $50 million for Community Connect grants and $10 million for rural middle-mile infrastructure grants and loans;
- Directing the USDA, FCC, National Telecommunications & Information Administration to consult with each other regarding funding; and
- Establishing the Innovative Broadband Advancement Program, which allocates $10 million for grants and loans to entities that are able to demonstrate innovative technologies or methods of deployment that significantly decrease cost and provide faster speeds than are normally available in rural areas.
Local and Independent Television Protections Against Media Monopolies:
In the 115th Congress, I introduced the Local and Independent Television Protection Act, which would protect local television markets across the country from corporate consolidation by permanently ending the so-called “UHF discount,” an obsolete FCC loophole that the Trump administration has attempted to revive to benefit right-wing media conglomerates by dramatically reducing competition among local TV stations across the country.
The Trump administration has repeatedly attacked the net neutrality protections that ensure a free and open Internet, culminating in a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote in December 2017 to dismantle the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules. I am a cosponsor of the Save the Internet Act legislation to reject the FCC’s order, and restore net neutrality protections that ensure a free and open internet. Read about our work in the 115th Congress to force a vote on net neutrality HERE.