Bi-partisan national broadband legislation goes to U.S. Senate

Aug. 5, 2022
The Proper Leadership to Align Networks (PLAN) for Broadband Act was this week introduced in the U.S. Senate. The legislation mandates the President to develop a national strategy to close the digital divide, and a plan to implement that strategy.

A press release sent yesterday by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation said that Senate and House Members have now introduced the 'PLAN for Broadband Act,' legislation which, per a  Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommendation, requires the President to develop a national strategy to close the digital divide, and a plan to implement that strategy.

U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., chair of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, and U.S. Representatives Tim Walberg, R-Mich., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., on Aug. 4 formally introduced the Proper Leadership to Align Networks (PLAN) for Broadband Act.

The legislation as proposed requires the President to develop a national strategy to close the digital divide and a plan to implement that strategy.

“Whether it’s preventing an entrepreneur from starting an online business, hindering students' ability to complete their homework, or limiting families' ability to seek telehealth, New Mexicans know the difference between fast internet, slow internet, and no internet,” said Luján. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will help improve coordination between federal agencies and local and Tribal governments to deliver on the funding we made available to build high speed, affordable broadband."

See also: Does robust fixed broadband competition quash a need for federal oversight?

“Bridging the digital divide is critical for families, farmers, and small businesses throughout Michigan. More than ever before, having access to reliable broadband service is integral to our economy, education, health care, and most aspects of our daily lives,” said Walberg. “Developing a detailed roadmap that improves the efficiency and coordination of federal broadband programs is a commonsense step we can take to accelerate deployment to the rural communities that need it most.”

“Vermont has been a leader in coordinating statewide broadband deployment, and the PLAN for Broadband Act will bring some of those same strategies that have worked for Vermonters to the federal level to help ensure that every American can access the high-speed broadband they need to thrive,” Welch said.

The new legislation is based on a GAO report that found that federal broadband efforts are fragmented and overlapping and recommended that the President develop a national broadband strategy.

“Closing the digital divide is one of Congress’ top priorities, but we cannot achieve that goal if our programs are mismanaged and lack coordination,” Wicker said. “A national broadband strategy will ensure our agencies are synchronized and manage these programs effectively to make sure that more Americans gain access to high-speed broadband.”

The full text of the legislation is here.

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