Senators Introduce Bipartisan Rural Broadband Bill

If passed, this bill would streamline the application process required to construct broadband infrastructure on federal lands.

by Wendy Holdren, The Register-Herald, Beckley, W.Va. / June 16, 2017
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., says that streamlining efforts to expand broadband deployment in rural areas like much of West Virginia is a necessary part of closing the digital divide. Flickr/Third Way Think Tank

(TNS) -- U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Dean Heller, R-Nev., have introduced the “Rural Broadband Deployment Streamlining Act” to help ensure Americans receive access to broadband.

The bill helps streamline the application process required to construct broadband infrastructure on federal lands.

“Streamlining efforts to expand broadband deployment in rural areas like much of West Virginia is a necessary part of closing the digital divide,” Manchin said.

“Importantly, this legislation includes an assessment of whether the data in the National Broadband Map accurately reflects the broadband coverage currently available to rural consumers and ensures that federal agencies are not unduly delaying the expansion of broadband access in rural America.”

Manchin said this legislation is a critical step toward ensuring the infrastructure necessary for broadband coverage in unserved and underserved communities.

This bill would expedite broadband infrastructure deployment necessary to expand broadband access in rural America; require federal agencies to establish regulations that reflect a streamlined, consistent, and standardized process for application review; and ensure that the broadband data collected for the National Broadband Map is robust and reliable by requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to examine the accuracy of this data.

Last month, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., introduced tech-neutral legislation to accelerate the development of high-speed internet in low-income and rural communities.

The Gigabit Opportunity Act, or “GO Act,” expands broadband in these communities by targeting investments to areas with the greatest need, eliminating barriers to investment and streamlining patchwork regulations.

©2017 The Register-Herald (Beckley, W.Va.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.