Democrats Push for Billions to Bring High-Speed Internet to Everyone

asharkyu/Shutterstock.com

Lawmakers believe faster, better broadband will help bring underserved rural communities into the 21st-century economy.

Democratic lawmakers hope to draw rural communities into the online economy by making high-speed internet available to the 34 million Americans who don’t have access to “quality” broadband services.

The plan comes as part of the party’s “Better Deal” economic agenda, which aims to increase opportunities for people left behind by the modern economy. With broadband services too costly, too slow or nonexistent in many parts of the country, Democrats think faster, more reliable internet access could provide them with the tools to thrive in a 21st-century economy.

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., compared the initiative to President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program that brought electricity and telephone services to rural America. Just as rural electrification boosted the standard of living for many, connecting people online could have positive impacts on business opportunities and other areas like health care and education.

» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.

“The electricity of today is high-speed internet access,” Bustos said Thursday at a press conference where lawmakers unveiled the plan.

Democrats have called for $40 billion in funding to build broadband infrastructure across the country, as well as upgrade the nation’s roads, bridges and other critical safety infrastructure. They also want to create more up-to-date maps of internet access in underserved areas, because they said the ones currently curated by the Federal Communications Commission are inaccurate and outdated.

The installing and rebuilding infrastructure will also create “millions of good-paying, full-time jobs,” Bustos said.

The FCC’s 2016 Broadband Progress Report found that more than 34 million Americans, about 10 percent of the country’s population, did not have access to internet connections with speeds of 25 Mbps or more. Only 61 percent of rural Americans have adequate broadband access, leaving 23 million others disconnected from the grid.

The report also showed broadband dead zones overlapped with many of the areas of America’s heartland traditionally dominated by Republicans, and where President Donald Trump’s populist message resonated especially well during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said bringing high-speed internet into these areas would invigorate economic growth for citizens who feel they’ve been largely ignored by the political establishment.

“People in small towns have to know we’ve got their back, that they are not being left behind on technology,” Stabenow said at the conference. “We want a small business to get started, be able to create a product or idea in their small town, and export it around the world without leaving their small town. Your future should be determined by the size of your dreams, not the distance to a decent internet connection.”

In addition to benefiting local businesses, lawmakers also said fast, reliable broadband would enable people to further their education with online courses and degrees, and open up better health care opportunities via telecommunication.

“If we have high-speed internet,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., “we’ll be able to get the finest of doctors in the smallest of towns” and connect the best teachers to classrooms across the country.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.