Lindsey Graham

08/04/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 08/04/2020 16:31

Senators Graham, Warner, And Scott Introduce Legislation To Promote Broadband In Underserved Areas

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Mark Warner (D-Virginia), and Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) today introduced the Governors' Broadband Development Fund.

The legislation:

  • Allocates $10 billion to the Broadband Development Fund to prioritize funding for areas that currently lack service.
  • Supports the deployment of advanced technologies in areas where there is greatest need.
  • Encourages projects that can provide internet service quickly.

'There are places in South Carolina you might as well be on the moon when it comes to getting high speed internet service,' saidSenator Graham. 'All South Carolinians should be able to utilize the educational, telehealth, and business benefits of accessible and affordable broadband. There is bipartisan support for expanding broadband access and our legislation dramatically improves access in rural and underserved areas. I'm cautiously optimistic we can get this done and signed into law soon.'

'Before this crisis, we saw that broadband access was a precondition to full participation in the digital economy,' said Senator Warner. 'But with this crisis we've seen that it's more than that: it's the enabling technology for remote education, tele-work, and tele-medicine; it's the means by which Americans apply for and access critical government benefits; and it provides us with the ability to stay close with loved ones we can no longer be in direct contact with. States like Virginia are leading the way in identifying and closing broadband gaps and this legislation will help expand and strengthen those important efforts.'

'Too many South Carolinians lack access to the global economy, telehealth, and educational tools due to the lack of broadband technology,' said Senator Scott. 'This bipartisan legislation gives governors the opportunity to effectively deploy broadband in the parts of their state that need it most. It is critical that we continue to find pathways to increase connectivity for all Americans to ensure that they are equipped with the tools necessary to thrive.'

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), about 21 million Americans do not have access to 25/3 mbps internet, which is the FCC's standard for high-speed broadband. Of that 21 million, 16 million live in rural areas, while 5 million live in urban areas.

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The Governors' Broadband Development Fund

  • The legislation will be introduced this week in the United States Senate. Original co-sponsors will be Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Scott (R-SC).
  • The legislation allocates $10 billion to the Broadband Development Fund.
  • Each state is provided a minimum of $75 million and the rest of the funding is distributed based on state populations.
    • 30 percent of a state's funding must be used in Opportunity Zones.
    • South Carolina would receive roughly $170 million from this program.
    • Virginia would receive roughly $237 million from this program.
    • Funding can be used for infrastructure development, providing free or reduced cost broadband service, community center improvements, and other applications.
  • The Governors' Broadband Development Fund prioritizes funding for areas that currently lack service, supports the deployment of advanced technologies, and encourages projects that can provide internet service quickly.
  • This block grant is designed off of the successful USDA ReConnect program, which has seen more than three times the demand than funding available.