Bill requires a modernized vision for the future of broadband access in America, as well as detailed strategies for leveraging connectivity to promote justice, equity, and economic growth
Washington (February 7, 2021) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) today announced the reintroduction of the National Broadband Plan for the Future Act, legislation that instructs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to update the National Broadband Plan and develop an updated roadmap for achieving universal connectivity. The introduction coincides with tomorrow’s 25th anniversary of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which catalyzed the market competition and broadband deployment that has transformed American life in the 21st century. Senator Markey was the principal Democratic author of the 1996 Act while serving in the House of Representatives.
Senator Markey also authored language in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that mandated the original National Broadband Plan, which set out a comprehensive roadmap for providing universal internet connectivity. Today’s legislation would require the FCC to assess the nation’s progress in deploying broadband infrastructure since that original plan was created, as well as develop a refreshed roadmap for closing the digital divide that incorporates the latest technologies and lessons learned during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, the National Broadband Plan for the Future Act requires the FCC to develop detailed strategies for how connectivity can be used to advance racial justice, socioeconomic equity, consumer welfare, public safety, health care, education, and more.
“The original National Broadband Plan laid out a vision for connecting all Americans to the internet,” said Senator Markey. “I’m proud of the roadmap that my previous provision created and the amazing progress we’ve made over the last decade. However, we still have a ways to go before we finish the job. During the coronavirus pandemic, we are seeing more than ever how necessary robust and affordable broadband is to the future of American life, education, jobs, and medical care. As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the landmark telecommunications legislation, I am proud to reintroduce this update to the National Broadband Plan so we can make sure internet access is a right for all in the 21st century.”
“The lack of universal access to affordable and high-speed internet worsens the existing inequities in society, especially now as so much of our personal and professional lives have moved online due to the pandemic,” said Rep. Anna G. Eshoo. “From telehealth to remote learning to teleworking, high-speed internet is essential in our day-to-day lives. We must make broadband affordable and accessible for all Americans. That’s why I’m proud to reintroduce the National Broadband Plan for the Future Act to ensure all Americans have broadband.”
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
“Senator Markey and Congresswoman Eshoo have long worked to ensure broadband is deployed as a tool to increase economic opportunity and racial justice,” said Karen Kornbluh, Director of the Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative at the German Marshall Fund of the US and Former US Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. “This new Broadband Plan is essential to building back better by upgrading the nation’s civic infrastructure and providing all Americans access to the economy of the future.”
“Every challenge our country faces – including handling COVID, stimulating an economic recovery, achieving social justice, and addressing climate – could be solved more effectively if we deploy networks everywhere, get everyone on, and use those networks more effectively to deliver essential services,” said Blair Levin, Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Former Executive Director of the National Broadband Plan at the FCC. “To meet the challenges of the next decade, we need a new National Broadband Plan that learns from the last decade for how to accelerate achieving those goals.”
“More than a decade ago, Sen. Markey championed legislation directing the FCC to develop a national broadband plan so the agency charged by Congress with ensuring all Americans have access to affordable communications services thought deliberately about how to get there. Unfortunately, many key elements of the plan were not completed, leaving millions of Americans trapped on the wrong side of the digital divide,” said Jenna Leventoff, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge. “As the saying goes, you have to plan your work, then work your plan. We are glad that Sen. Markey and Rep. Eshoo are championing the need for a plan to connect as many Americans as possible, and to better understand the impact that broadband adoption – or the lack thereof – has on communities during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. This update to the national broadband plan can help the FCC further address the digital divide by taking another look at the current barriers to broadband access and adoption and how to overcome those barriers. We urge Congress to move expeditiously to pass this legislation.”