COLUMN — Warner discusses $100 billion broadband proposal

Published 6:00 am Friday, July 17, 2020

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Access to high-speed internet is a necessity in our digital economy.

Mark Warner

Especially now, during this global health crisis, broadband internet is essential for individuals applying for a job, Americans trying to access government benefits, young people submitting a college application, families connecting with their health care providers, or students advancing and supplementing their distance learning.

Unfortunately, as too many families in Virginia’s rural communities know, not everyone has access to this vital service. In the commonwealth alone, it’s estimated that more than 700,000 Virginians lack reliable access to broadband. That’s 700,000 individuals who risk losing out on important economic or learning opportunities, and who may have to travel long distances to get the health care they need. And that’s assuming you can afford the broadband service that’s available in your area. 

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Simply put — every community in Virginia deserves access to this critical technology. That’s why I worked to build-out more than 800 miles of fiber-optic broadband in Virginia during my tenure as governor and why I’ve been committed to expanding broadband access during my time in the Senate. It’s also why I recently introduced an important piece of legislation to address the gap in broadband. 

The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act would invest $100 billion to build high-speed broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities, helping to bridge the digital divide that still exists in cities and towns all across the country.  

In addition to establishing broadband infrastructure nationwide, this bill would also put guidelines in place to make sure affordable internet service plans are made available by internet service providers. It would also help provide discounts on internet service for low-income consumers and students, and would establish grants to help expand digital inclusion at a local level. 

Access to broadband is vital to increasing digital literacy, achieving economic stability, and advancing education. That’s why, in the coming months, I’m going to be pushing to get this bill brought up to the Senate floor for a vote. 

If you want to share your thoughts about an issue that’s important to you, you can send me an email any time using the form on my Senate website. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Mark Warner is a U.S. senator for the commonwealth of Virginia. He can be reached at 1 (877) 676-2759.