Sen. Ron Wyden pushes to raise standards for stimulus-funded broadband

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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) is looking on the Treasury Division to fund broadband initiatives in communities with out entry to 100Mbps add and obtain speeds with the cash allotted by the American Rescue Plan earlier this yr.

In March, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, directing the Treasury Division to distribute billions of to assist state and native governments amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic. As a part of the plan, this funding can be utilized to increase entry to high-speed broadband web in communities that want it.

Nonetheless, the plan’s language suggests funding can solely go to “unserved” or “underserved” communities. The Federal Communications Fee classifies communities with speeds of under 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up as “underserved.” In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Tuesday, Wyden is asking that the division increase that definition to communities with speeds lower than 100Mbps up and down.

“The mass adoption of video calling, streaming, and different bandwidth-intensive apps by Individuals throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear that miserly speeds and information caps are holding again telework, distant schooling and telehealth capability,” Wyden wrote within the letter. “Merely put, it’s not attainable for a household of 4 to telework and have interaction in distant education whereas sharing three Mbps of add bandwidth.”

The Treasury Division didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

The federal authorities’s definition of high-speed broadband has remained on the identical stage since 2015. However that definition has been referred to as into query by lawmakers searching for to spice up that commonplace on account of heightened house web utilization as a result of coronavirus pandemic. As infrastructure funding talks started earlier this yr, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) penned a letter to the FCC requesting that the company change the definition of “high-speed” broadband to something about 100Mbps symmetrical speeds.

It’s unclear if Biden’s newest American Jobs Plan or any subsequent broadband funding measures from Congress may change this definition sooner or later. The Biden administration’s broadband plan initially referred to as for $100 billion to attach each American to high-speed web by the top of the last decade. Republicans pushed again in opposition to that quantity, ensuing within the administration scaling again its proposal to $65 billion last week.

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