O’Halleran Cosponsors Bill to Bring Internet Access to Rural Communities
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Tom O’Halleran made a commitment to rural communities across the 1st District by cosponsoring the New Deal Rural Broadband Act, a bill to invest in broadband internet infrastructure across the country.
“Access to reliable, high speed Internet is critical for the economic livelihood of our rural communities. This bill would expand access to education opportunities for our children and encourage innovation in our business community,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “Arizona families all across the district will see a benefit from this commonsense investment.”
The New Deal Rural Broadband Act would:
- Establish a new Office of Rural Broadband Initiatives to coordinate and centralize all Federal rural broadband programs;
- Authorize $20 billion for new broadband infrastructure - in line with Senate infrastructure proposals from January 2017 - targeting rural communities and those without adequate access;
- Authorize a new Tribal Broadband Assistance Program to support tribal communities in broadband deployment;
- Improve and modernize the Telecommunications Loan and and Loan Guarantee Program to increase eligibility, allow greater flexibility, and break down broadband silos;
- Authorize the RUS to offer broadband grants in addition to loans and loan guarantees to provide small communities with the seed funds needed to compete in loan applications or develop commercially attractive proposals and increase overall RUS broadband investment from $25 million to $50 million annually;
- Establish an inventory of Federal and State assets on which a broadband facility could be constructed;
- Provide land management agencies with cooperative agreement and fee retention authority for telecommunications rights-of-way to leverage public lands for broadband deployment.