Rep. Ted Budd Introduces Bill to Boost Rural Broadband Projects

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) introduced the Encouraging Private Investment for Better Broadband Act. The bill expands the use of Private Activity Bonds to communities that do not have high-speed broadband internet access.

The bill is endorsed by the National Utility Contractors Association and the Power and Communication Contractor Association.

Read the legislative text of the bill HERE


Rep. Budd said in a statement:

“Bridging the digital divide is a priority that cannot be ignored by Congress. Rural communities in North Carolina deserve the same quality internet access as big cities. My bill would make it easier for private investment to flow to these communities without relying on taxpayer dollars or bureaucratic decision-making. This commonsense proposal has the potential to markedly improve the lives of rural North Carolinians, and I will aggressively push for it to become law.”


NUCA Director of Government Affairs Zack Perconti said:

“In the modern digital economy, expanding high-speed broadband service needs to be a national priority. NUCA strongly supports Rep. Budd’s introduction of The Encouraging Private Investment for Better Broadband Act, which will build upon work this Congress has done to expand nationwide access to broadband. NUCA has long advocated for the expanded use of Private Activity Bonds to maximize investment in our nation’s underground infrastructure. With several small changes to existing law, billions of dollars more from private financing sources could be potentially unlocked to build essential underground infrastructure. This bill is another important step towards modernizing federal speed requirements and would help ensure that millions more Americans have access to reliable high-speed fiber broadband connections.”


PCCA Chairman Jerrod Henschel, Equix, Inc. said:

“The Power and Communication Contractors Association (PCCA) represents contractors, manufacturers, and distributors who build and repair America’s broadband systems. As the ones on the front lines of America’s fiber buildout, PCCA members know how large the digital divide remains. PCCA strongly supports the Encouraging Private Investment for Better Broadband Act. PCCA has long advocated for higher speed standards to meet the needs of the modern and future digital economies. While we urge Congress to go further and require higher upload speeds, this bill is an important step towards expanding access to modern high-speed fiber broadband. Expanding project PAB eligibility and lifting the state volume cap on qualified broadband projects will ensure maximum investment in our nation’s underground broadband infrastructure, and PCCA asks that Congress move swiftly to pass this legislation.”


Background:

  • Private Activity Bonds (PABs) are tax-exempt bonds issued by or on behalf of local and state governments to provide funding for private projects that have an overwhelmingly public benefit.

  • PABs allow states and cities to issue competitively priced bonds, decreasing project costs and increasing the likelihood that broadband projects will be pursued in areas where returns on investment may not be as high.

  • Rep. Budd’s Encouraging Private Investment for Better Broadband Act expands the definition of qualified broadband project to include areas where more than 50% of residents do not have access to fixed, terrestrial broadband service at speeds of at least 100 megabits per second (mbps) downstream and 20 mbps upstream.

  • The infrastructure law set eligibility at speeds of at 25 mbps downstream and 3 mbps upstream.

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