Senate Bill Seeks to Fund Broadband Builds on Power Grids – MeriTalk

Legislation recently introduced in the Senate aims to create a system of federal grants to help fund the construction of new broadband networks in areas of the country that do not have much broadband service currently available or that have speeds of service below 100 megabits per second (Mbit/s) upload and download at 20 Mbit/s.

The new broadband infrastructure would be built on top of existing electrical grid infrastructure, and grant recipients would be required to use the funding to “enhance cybersecurity and smart grid technology on their electrical grid infrastructure,” while providing new “halfway” broadband network backbones. .

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) currently defines broadband service as 25 Mbps upload / 3 Mbps upload, but last month FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel launched a notice of inquiry explore whether to increase this definition to 100 Mbps / 20 Mbps.

The Broadband GRID Act was presented by Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and Shelley Moore Capito, RW.Va., Senior Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

The subsidies contemplated by the bill would be provided through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Department of Commerce.

The text of the bill does not specify the amounts or sources of funding for the proposed subsidy program. It says, however, that many of the grants are envisioned as private sector matching funding on a 50/50 basis, with some grants on an 80/20 basis for tribal organizations and regulated, not-for-profit electric utilities. .

“The goal of this bipartisan initiative is to help provide affordable high-speed Internet options to the 120 million American homes that lack connectivity and to improve the resilience, diversity and security of the American electric grid,” said senators’ offices. The grant program, they said, “will create thousands of skilled jobs, while building the capacity and resilience of our critical networks, reducing costs for providers and consumers, and setting the stage for growth.” sustained economic growth over the long term”.

“In order to achieve our goal of bringing reliable, high-speed Internet access to every community in West Virginia, we must continue to bring solutions to the table,” commented Senator Capito. “The Broadband GRID Act would use our country’s electrical grid system to help build and deploy broadband, especially in some of the more rural areas of West Virginia with little or no service.

“Building fiber along our country’s existing network will provide the communications capacity needed to modernize our energy system, make our network more cyber-secure, and bring affordable high-speed Internet access to tens of millions of hard-to-reach homes. achieve,” Sen. Cantwell said.

“This is a triple-win solution for consumers, as it leverages existing rights of way and private sector ingenuity and investment to deliver cleaner electricity, enhanced cybersecurity and broadband services. more accessible band,” said the senator, who likened the legislation to rural electrification. Act enacted in 1936 that provided federal loans to create electrical distribution systems in rural areas of the United States

Norman D. Briggs