Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher Introduces New Legislation to Help Communities Expand Broadband Infrastructure
Washington, August 20, 2021
(Washington, DC) – Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) introduced new legislation, the Broadband Incentives for Communities Act, to help communities across the country upgrade and expand their broadband infrastructure. Over the past decade, Congress has invested $12 billion for communities to deploy broadband, and as Congress moves to pass an infrastructure package with additional broadband investment, local governments will need support navigating the expected increase in permitting applications for these projects. Congresswoman Fletcher’s Broadband Incentives for Communities Act creates a grant program to provide local and state governments with the resources and flexibility necessary to navigate the process successfully.
“Broadband infrastructure is essential infrastructure. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for high-speed internet to connect workers to jobs, students to online resources, and people to one another in every community across the country,” said Congresswoman Fletcher. “In order to close the digital divide across the country, we need to support communities as they upgrade and increase broadband capabilities. One way that Congress can do this is by providing cities and local governments with resources to process the expected increase in permitting applications necessary to build out broadband infrastructure. My bill, the Broadband Incentives for Communities Act, creates a grant program that will provide this vital support, ensuring communities have the resources necessary to modernize their infrastructure.”
In order to upgrade and expand broadband infrastructure, local governments work with private wireless companies to build out the necessary technology across communities. This requires these companies to submit zoning and permitting applications, however, many wireless technology applications often do not fit the traditional governmental review process, and local governments may lack the personnel, training, and technical resources to efficiently permit these deployments. These are significant factors in providing efficient delivery of broadband in urban and rural communities.Congresswoman Fletcher’s Broadband Incentives for Communities Act addresses this barrier by creating a grant program under the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) to give communities new resources to train and hire employees in the permitting departments, hire additional human resources, and purchase updated technology and equipment that would facilitate the permitting process. The legislation also requires the NTIA to convene stakeholders to discuss and find solutions to the challenges of efficiently deploying broadband in their local communities. This will help ensure providers can build the networks that are critical to meet the rapidly increasing broadband needs of all communities.