The ACCESS BROADBAND (Advancing Critical Connectivity Expands Service, Small Business Resources, Opportunities, Access, and Data Based on Assessed Need and Demand) Act, which would provide expanded broadband access to underserved and rural areas, is back in both chambers of Congress.

The legislation was reintroduced by Reps. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Susan Brooks, R-Ind., in the House, with a companion bill in the Senate introduced by Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis.

A previous version of the bill was introduced in the 115th Congress and while it passed the House, it died in the Senate.

“Despite its importance, Federal resources supporting broadband expansion are poorly tracked with little coordination across agencies or departments that are doing this work, making it harder for our local businesses and community leaders to access them,” Rep. Tonko said.

The ACCESS BROADBAND Act would also establish an Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, tasked with streamlining the process for small businesses and local governments to apply for Federal broadband assistance and improve government and private sector coordination.

In addition to expanding broadband access, the bill would also focus on funding local training workshops to assist small businesses and economic developers in learning how to put Federal broadband resources to work.

“I look forward to acting on this legislation to lay the groundwork for 5G networks that serve the needs of first responders, businesses, and local school districts that need fast, reliable internet,” said Sen. Cortez Masto.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.