Rep. G. K. Butterfield, D-N.C., introduced the Expanding Opportunities for Broadband Deployment Act on June 11 to increase access to and accelerate deployment of broadband services across the United States.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the absolute necessity of high-speed internet access for participation in the modern world,” Butterfield said. “My bill, the Expanding Opportunities for Broadband Deployment Act, will ensure that affordable broadband is quickly and efficiently deployed to unserved households while closing the digital divide for low-income households at this critical moment in our nation’s history.”
Butterfield continued that broadband infrastructure is not consistent across the United States, and even in urban areas where broadband service is more widely available, many low-income families cannot afford it.
The legislation would allow more broadband service providers to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s Universal Service Fund by striking the rule only allowing “eligible telecommunications carriers” (ETC) to receive funding. Per a press release from Butterfield’s office, many underserved areas lack broadband access at least in part because qualified internet service providers are not permitted to participate in the Universal Service Fund because they lack the ETC designation.