Would 'streamline' assistance to business and local governments

A bipartisan bill has been introduced to spur the Trump Administration to boost broadband access in underserved areas, which means the mostly rural areas where there is less of a business case for it.

Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) have introduced a mouthful of a bill, the Advancing Critical Connectivity Expands Service, Small Businesses Resources, Opportunities, Access, and Data Based on Assessed Need and Demand (ADVANCING BROADBAND) Act (HR 1328).

Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) have introduced a companion bill in that body, according to Tonko's office.

The bill:

1. "Establishes an Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)."

2. "Directs this office to simplify access for small businesses and local communities, possibly including small business workshops and other support resources.

3. "Streamlines process for small businesses & local governments to apply for federal broadband assistance; improves coordination across government and the private sector."

A similar bill passed the House last session, but not the Senate.

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