On Tuesday, the House passed by voice vote HR 1328, the ACCESS BROADBAND Act. Introduced by Representative Paul Tonko (D-New York), the bill would establish the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth (Office) within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The Office would hold regional workshops to share best practices and effective strategies for promoting broadband access and adoption.
The bill requires the Office consult with any agency offering federal assistance for broadband deployment to streamline the application process and, to the greatest extent practicable, create one application that can be universal across the government. The Office is responsible for streamlining federal broadband assistance programs to prevent duplicity and waste.
A Senate version of the bill was introduced by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada), Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), Doug Jones (D-Alabama), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee). Supporters hope the legislation will spur the Trump Administration into updating its approach to rural broadband assistance and improve return on investment for public funds spent on rural broadband deployment.