On Wednesday, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-South Carolina) was joined by members of the House Rural Broadband Task Force and other House Democrats to introduce the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act (H.R. 7302), another bill to boost broadband in the time of COVID-19 and beyond. The bill would put $100 billion into building high-speed broadband infrastructure in underserved as well as unserved communities and subsidize the service to make sure it was affordable. It would also put billions of dollars into broadband adoption programs. The bill is part of House Democrats' $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, the Moving Forward Act.
Additionally, Senate Commerce Committee Chair Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) introduced his own bill that would accelerate the buildout of rural broadband infrastructure. Specifically, the measure would speed-up disbursement of government subsidies for telecom companies. The measure represents a victory for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and certain telecom industry interests that feared Senator Wicker may push to more dramatically upend the set-up for the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund October auction. Accelerating Broadband Connectivity (ABC) Act of 2020, which Senator Wicker is now leading alongside Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) and Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), would not change when the auction starts. The measure would instead create a fund that the FCC can tap to persuade winning auction bidders to conclude broadband build-outs faster rather than taking several years. It would authorize $6 billion for that purpose.