Cooper & Williams Reintroduce Bill to Expand Rural Broadband
NASHVILLE – Today Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) and Rep. Roger Williams (TX-25) reintroduced the bipartisan bill, the Eliminate the Digital Divide Act. The bill addresses the digital divide by giving more internet access to more people who have been left behind at a time when they most need reliable broadband.
The legislation requires the Federal Communications Commission to set up a new State Broadband program, which will provide funds to expand internet access to unserved areas. This includes more than 600,000 Tennesseans.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the gaps in broadband service in Tennessee. Teachers, students, businesses, and even folks who want to visit family, had to quickly adapt to virtual platforms to teach, learn, grow, and be together,” Rep. Jim Cooper said. “We cannot become a more equitable society if we don’t get internet access to our underserved communities.”
“Access to reliable internet remains one of the biggest challenges in today’s digital economy, and I am proud to introduce this bill to prevent Texans from being left on the wrong side of the digital divide,” said Rep. Roger Williams. “During COVID-19 Americans were forced to adapt to new virtual ways of living, conducting schoolwork, medical appointments, and business over the internet rather than in person. For far too many of my constituents, unreliable internet exacerbated the challenges of the pandemic and highlighted the gaping digital divide. Prior to the pandemic, more than two million Texas residents didn’t have access to reliable internet and a staggering 18 million Americans nationwide had no access at all,” Rep. Williams continued. “By empowering states to direct funding to unserved areas, this legislation will allow for increased economic development and help rural communities in every state have access to reliable and affordable broadband service.”