Legislation Introduced to Support Community-owned Broadband Networks

WASHINGTON — The Community Broadband Act, legislation that will empower local communities to ensure their residents have broadband access by preserving the right to provide community-owned service to consumers, was introduced by Representatives Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Mark Pocan (D-WI), and Jared Polis (D-CO).

According to the Congressional Research Service, twenty states have passed laws that either restrict or outright prohibit local communities from investing local dollars in building their own broadband networks. These laws shield incumbent internet service providers from competition and tie the hands of communities that want to improve broadband options or build-out to unserved areas which private providers refuse to connect. A recent study from Harvard University found that in nearly all cases, community-owned ISPs’ pricing were lower than the incumbent ISPs – sometimes by as much as 50 percent.

Community Broadband Act
The Community Broadband Act prohibits states from writing laws that inhibit local governments from building their own broadband, preserving the local right to self-determination in connecting communities.

“Broadband Internet is the most vital tool of the 21st Century economy,” Rep. Eshoo said. “Unfortunately, millions of Americans are still acutely impacted by a complete lack of or an inferior broadband connection. The Community Broadband Act is an important step in bridging the digital divide and will help local governments enable connectivity, increase economic growth and create jobs.”

“I’m once again happy to be an original cosponsor of the Community Broadband Act. This bill gives communities another tool to help meet the broadband needs of their citizens. All too often, communities around the country struggle to get service from private providers, and where people can get service all too often it’s too slow and costs too much. Communities that build out their own broadband networks offer competitive options that not only bring service to the unserved, but also promote competition in underserved areas. This policy can help urban and rural districts alike and bring 21st Century opportunities to communities throughout the nation that have been left behind,” said Rep. Doyle.

“Our communities must be connected in order to compete in today’s global economy. In too many cases, rural communities – across Colorado and across our country – don’t have access to one of the 21st century’s most fundamental tools: high-speed broadband internet. We need to ensure these communities are afforded the same opportunities, and internet speed, so they can continue to thrive and flourish,” said Rep. Polis.

The Community Broadband Act is the second in a series of bills Congresswoman Eshoo is introducing that are all designed to expand broadband access in local communities across the country. The first bill, the Broadband Conduit Deployment Act of 2018 mandates the inclusion of broadband conduit — plastic pipes which house fiber-optic communications cable — during the construction of any road receiving federal funding.

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