Funding for rural broadband clears Senate Committee


WASHINGTON, D.C. —Wednesday the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation passed a measure authored by U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) to provide potentially billions to expand access to broadband in rural areas.

“By approving this legislation, the Senate Commerce Committee took a great step toward bridging the divide between urban and rural Colorado,” said Senator Gardner. “My proposal would ensure that at least 10 percent of the proceeds from a sale of C-band spectrum would be allocated for rural buildout in unserved and underserved areas throughout Colorado and the country.”

Gardner’s measure was included in S. 2881, the 5G Spectrum Act, which was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee.

The measure requires 10 percent of all of the proceeds from the C-Band spectrum auction in the bill to go directly to wireless broadband infrastructure buildout in unserved and underserved areas throughout rural communities across the country. Gardner first proposed the idea of a rural dividend provision in 2017 with his legislation known as the Advancing Innovation and Reinvigorating Widespread Access to Viable Electromagnetic Spectrum (AIRWAVES) Act, under which 10 percent of proceeds from spectrum auctions would be devoted to increasing broadband access in rural areas.

Gardner’s efforts to expand broadband deployment in rural Colorado include:

w In August, Gardner introduced the bipartisan TOWER Infrastructure Deployment Act with Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), which requires the Federal Communications Commission to improve and streamline workforce development programs to prepare for next-generation communications infrastructure.

w In July, Gardner introduced the bipartisan AIRWAVES Act with Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), which could provide roughly $6.5 billion to expand broadband access in rural areas. 

w In May, Gardner introduced the bipartisan Map Improvement Act of 2019 with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) to update broadband deployment maps so federal funding will go where it is needed most.

w In March, Gardner introduced bipartisan legislation to expand wireless internet to school buses, which would help students in rural areas who have long commutes and may not have broadband internet at home.

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