Broadband

CWA Calls for $100B Broadband Infrastructure Investment

Says $10 billion should go to E-Rate 6/07/2017 12:06 PM Eastern

With President Donald Trump emphasizing his infrastructure revamp proposal, the Communications Workers of America wants Congress to emphasize broadband investment in any plan it approves.

That came in a letter from the union to Republican and Democrat leaders of the relevant Senate and House committees calling for a $100 billion broadband infrastructure investment.

The CWA said any broadband infrastructure bill should: (1) direct $40 billion in funding to unserved communities; (2) change the tax laws to accelerate depreciation for broadband capital expenditures; (3) direct $10 billion to the FCC's E-rate fund for high-speed broadband to schools and libraries; and (4) supplement the FCC's Lifeline subsidy (basic telecom for those who need help affording it) with a $100 annual tax credit on the purchase of broadband by low-income families (those making less than $35,000 per year).

“High-speed Internet is the foundation for economic activity, employment opportunity and full participation in our society,” wrote CWA president Chris Shelton. “To ensure that every community in our nation has access to this critical infrastructure, the Communications Workers of America urges Congress to prioritize broadband in any infrastructure bill through a $100 billion program that includes direct funding, tax incentives support to schools and libraries, and digital inclusion initiatives.”

House Democrats last month proposed their own $40 billion broadband infrastructure package.

ISPs have argued that subsidies should not go to overbuild existing service, and point out that while much of the infrastructure targets are crumbling, like roads and bridges, broadband infrastructure is a case of building on an already solid footing thanks to the investment of hundreds of billions in upgrades which, based on the private investments, they see as still the best way to build out high-speed broadband.

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