Rush Introduces the “Connecting Broadband Deserts Act”
WASHINGTON — U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) introduced legislation to direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to conduct an annual inquiry on the availability of advanced telecommunications capability in broadband deserts. The term “broadband desert” is defined as a community in an urban area where fewer than 33 percent of residents lack access to sufficient broadband service.
The legislation, called “Connecting Broadband Deserts Act of 2018” and cosponsored by U.S. Representative Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), would require that the FCC determine if advanced telecommunications capability are being properly deployed in broadband deserts in a reasonable and timely fashion and if digital redlining is occurring. Digital redlining occurs when areas are systematically excluded from digital resources and advanced technology. Those most impacted areas by this occurrence are mostly low-income communities or areas with a high minority population.
“No community in our country should be deprived of access to broadband. This technology is critical for everyone, in every community, to develop economically and compete in a digital world,” said Rush. “If we stand by and allow areas in America to go without digital capabilities, we are ensuring that these places will become irrelevant.”
The bill would require that the FCC take immediate action and remove any barriers relating to infrastructure investment and encourage competition in the telecommunications market for areas deemed broadband deserts.
“We have the resources, talent, and innovation to make sure that everybody has reliable access to broadband. It is amoral to allow communities to be ignored, forgotten, and disadvantaged because they lack broadband access. The digital divide must end,” said Rush.