WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., John Thune, R-S.D., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., today reintroduced the Proper Leadership to Align Networks (PLAN) for Broadband Act. The legislation requires the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to develop a national strategy to close the digital divide and a plan to implement it. This legislation is based on a Government Accountability Office report that found that federal broadband efforts are fragmented and overlapping and recommended that the executive branch develop a national broadband strategy.
“Connecting more Americans to internet service needs to be a priority, but it will be unnecessarily delayed if our programs are mismanaged,” Wicker said. “The PLAN for Broadband Act will help streamline communication and coordination for everyone involved to prevent wasteful spending and get funding to the communities who need it most.”
“In today’s age, a reliable internet connection makes all the difference for New Mexican entrepreneurs, students, and their families. It enables small businesses to compete in the digital economy, allows students to get ahead in their studies, and expands families’ access to telehealth services,” Luján said. “That’s why I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation that will help improve coordination between federal agencies and local and Tribal governments to help deliver high speed, affordable broadband. By creating a national strategy to close the digital divide, this legislation will only help us get closer to our goal of getting New Mexico’s communities 100% connected.”
“Expanding access to broadband services and connectivity in rural areas across South Dakota has long been a priority for me,” Thune said. “Access to broadband services is typically determined by where you live, which often leaves rural communities behind. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that would help bridge the digital divide.”
“Everyone should have access to broadband that’s fast, affordable, and reliable—but that’s not the case for far too many rural communities in Vermont and across the U.S.,” Welch said. “At the federal level, there are over 100 broadband programs administered by 15 agencies. We must give these agencies the tools they need to coordinate effectively and ensure swift and responsive broadband buildout nationwide. This bill will require the President to facilitate those efforts by making a plan to close the digital divide and help every community access essential broadband service. I’m proud to join Senator Wicker and other colleagues to introduce this important, bipartisan legislation.”
U.S Representatives Tim Walberg, R-Mich., and Annie Kuster, D-N.H., have introduced companion legislation in the House.
The full text of the legislation can be found here.