News: Quick Takes

Hudson pushes bill to expand broadband in rural, unserved areas

U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson at a May 2, 2018 roundtable on human trafficking issues. (CJ photo by Kari Travis)
U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson at a May 2, 2018 roundtable on human trafficking issues. (CJ photo by Kari Travis)

A congressman from North Carolina has introduced a new bill to expand broadband access in rural America.

Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8th District, calls his bill the 21st Century Broadband Deployment Act.

“This pandemic has exposed new haves and have-nots in America — those with access to the internet and those without it,” Hudson said in a news release. “As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, I am determined to help close the digital divide and expand access to broadband across rural communities in North Carolina and around the country. I look forward to advancing my bipartisan and common-sense legislation.”

Hudson’s bill would establish two grant programs, according to the release. Both would be housed at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. They would award up to $23 billion over five years.

“These grant programs would require the NTIA to use maps created by the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that federal broadband reaches unserved and rural areas,” according to Hudson’s release. ‘The programs would also promote public-private partnerships that have streamlined their permitting process so that federal support pays for broadband expansion, not red tape.”

Hudson’s legislation is part of a larger Republican package, The American Broadband Act. Chief sponsors of that bill are Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee; and Rep. Robert Latta, R-Ohio, the GOP ranking member of the House Communications and Technology Committee.  The larger package is designed “to streamline permitting processes across the country and bridge the digital divide in rural America,” according to Hudson’s release.

The American Broadband Act also features Hudson’s Federal Broadband Deployment Tracking Act. It would streamline the process of deploying broadband on federal lands.