WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Access Broadband Act Thursday, legislation that would streamline the management of federal broadband programs and resources to reduce government waste, and to ensure small businesses and communities can more easily access these resources.
“Rural broadband access is an important issue in Wisconsin, especially for our farmers, rural doctors, and schools looking to connect their students to the world. While the federal government has numerous programs dedicated to bridging the urban-rural digital divide, the bureaucracy can be confusing and create barriers for broadband providers, communities, and small businesses who need access to these resources,” said Sen. Johnson. “This bill will streamline management of federal resources to ensure Wisconsinites have easier access to these critical resources, reduce government waste, and ultimately connect more Wisconsinites in today’s digital world.”
Text of the bill can be found here.
Sen. Johnson introduced the Access Broadband Act with Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-N.M.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).
The Access Broadband Act would establish the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and direct it to:
- Coordinate and track federal broadband resources to ensure they are well spent, not duplicative, and directed toward high-need areas.
- Report to Congress annually on overall broadband deployment progress.
- Streamline and standardize the application process across all federal broadband programs to ensure a level playing field for all communities and small businesses.
- Conduct outreach to educate communities about opportunities to obtain loans and grants to expand broadband access.