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Senator Susan Collins has introduced the American Broadband Buildout Act to help get internet to rural areas

Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 5:28 PM EST
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) -Senator Susan Collins has introduced the American Broadband Buildout Act which will provide broadband internet to rural areas in the Country. Megan Cole has more on what this means for the county.

Internet has become a necessity during the COVID 19 pandemic. But, for rural areas, it can be hard to come by. That’s why Senator Susan Collins says she introduced the American Broadband Buildout Act.

“It would provide a total of 15 billion dollars nationwide to match state and internet service provider’s funds in order to expand broadband internet access to that last mile. What we found is that previous efforts have sometimes resulted in over building they’ll repeat what’s already been done and the internet services not getting to those rural homes or if it is getting there it’s costing thousands of dollars to do the connections.”

Senator Collins says she’s been contacted by communities in the County about the need for better internet.

“The town manager in Fort Fairfield some families in Easton just to name a few in Aroostook County but I’ve also learned of a business that decided not to locate in central Aroostook because they felt that the broadband service just wasn’t fast enough and reliable enough. We can’t afford to lose kind of good jobs.”

She adds it’s not only important to have good internet access for people to do day to day tasks, but also for the possibly of business growth.

“So many Businesses nowadays look at whether or not an area has ample broadband in order for them to operate efficiently. And if a community does not have that service then they are likely to locate their business elsewhere.”

The bill will:

  • Require that projects that receive funding be located in “unserved” areas, where broadband is unavailable at speeds that meet the FCC’s standard. Narrowing the focus to these areas will ensure that the money goes where it is needed most and will also protect against “over-building” where broadband infrastructure is already in place;
  • Require that this federal funding be matched through public-private partnerships between the broadband service provider and the state in which the infrastructure project will be built. This means that state, local, and private sector partners, along with the federal government, will have a shared commitment, ensuring that projects will be well thought-out and designed to be sustainable;
  • Require that projects be designed to be “future proof,” meaning that the infrastructure installed must be capable of delivering higher-speeds as broadband accelerates in the future. This will ensure that federal tax dollars are used to help build a network that serves rural Americans now and, in the future, without having to rebuild it every time technology advances;
  • Direct the FCC to prioritize the funding of projects in states that have traditionally lagged behind the national average in terms of broadband subscribers and are at risk of falling further behind as broadband speeds increase; and,
  • Provide grants to states and state-designated entities for digital literacy and public awareness campaigns highlighting the benefits and possibilities of broadband service.

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