It is an exciting week in broadband legislation! On March 10, the House passed the American Rescue Plan Act, the latest COVID-19 relief package. The bill was approved by the Senate on March 6, so it will head next to President Biden for his signature late this week. This legislation will provide $17 billion for broadband, including $7 billion dedicated to E-rate, schools and libraries, and $10 billion for the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund that enables work, education, health monitoring with remote options.
The BRIDGE Act is expected to be reintroduced this week, with a goal to provide $30 billion to states and tribal governments to fund future-proof broadband in unserved and/or underserved areas. This legislation outlines a preference for symmetrical gigabit networks with a minimum of 100 Mbps/100 Mbps internet speeds.
Another exciting piece of legislation is expected to be introduced this week—the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act of 2021. To demonstrate its support for the bill, the FBA submitted a letter of enthusiastic support to Congress this week, and noted how critical fiber optic infrastructure will be to achieving the goals set forth by the Act.
The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act is comprehensive legislation, introduced by members of the House Rural Broadband Task Force and House Democrats to expand access to affordable high-speed internet.
The legislation offers investments of over $100 billion to build high-speed broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities and will ensure that the resulting internet service is affordable. 75% of funding is dedicated to areas with less than 20 Mbps/25 Mbps service speeds, and it also is providing funds to extend the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.
The FBA applauded the vision of the legislation, with appreciation for provisions designed to ensure all bidders meet objective, transparent criteria upfront demonstrating technical and operational capacity to implement winning projects.
The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act is set to pay huge dividends for America and result in rural communities throughout the nation finally enjoying the reliable, lightning-fast fiber optic networks that are becoming commonplace in urban and suburban areas.