If Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) becomes president, Americans in rural areas can potentially look forward to having universal broadband access to the tune of $85 billion.
According to NBC News, the 2020 hopeful unveiled a new proposal that would “guarantee universal high-speed internet access as part of a new plan to invest in rural communities.”
In a post on the blogging platform Medium on Wednesday, Warren said that she will “make sure every home in America has a fiber broadband connection at a price families can afford. That means publicly-owned and operated networks — and no giant [internet service providers] running away with taxpayer dollars.”
This Office of Broadband Access would be an $85 billion grant program that would be awarded to “electricity and telephone cooperatives, nonprofits, tribes and municipalities that pledge to bring high-speed internet to underserved areas,” according to NBC News.
“The federal government will pay 90 cents on the dollar for construction under these grants,” Warren said of the Office of Broadband Access. “In exchange, applicants will be required to offer high-speed public broadband directly to every home in their application area.”
“In the twenty-first century, every home should have access to this technology — but we’re not even close to that today,” Warren said in her post. “While urban areas may be more likely to have access to fiber broadband, many residents can’t afford to connect to it. Nearly 27% of households in Detroit and Cleveland had no Internet access in 2017, and households with incomes below $35,000 comprise 60% of households without broadband access, despite making up just 31% of the national population.”
Warren compared the lack of high-speed internet to the lack of electricity rural communities faced in the 1930s and how internet companies have been working to inhibit local municipalities from building their own public networks. Though the federal government has given private internet providers funds to expand into rural areas, says Warren, they have been “offering internet speeds well below the FCC minimum.”
“My plan will make it clear in federal statute that municipalities have the right to build their own broadband networks,” she proposed. “Many small towns and rural areas have turned to municipal networks to provide broadband access in places that the private market has failed to serve — but today, as many as 26 states have passed laws hindering or banning municipalities from building their own broadband infrastructure to protect the interests of giant telecom companies. We will preempt these laws and return this power to local governments.”
In 2017, the FCC voted to end the Obama-era regulation “net neutrality,” which sought to treat internet access as a telecommunications service, therefore making it illegal for internet service providers to charge customers based on their level and speed of consumption. Warren vowed to bring “net neutrality” back by appointing FCC Commissioners that will restore it.
“I will appoint FCC Commissioners who will restore net neutrality, regulating internet service providers as ‘common carriers’ and maintaining open access to the Internet,” she said.
The underlying problems with “net neutrality” have been written about at length here at The Daily Wire and elsewhere. Harry Khachatrian illustrated the problem succinctly when he said that it would result “in an internet where a handful of large corporations have access to peering agreements with large transit providers (what some people refer to as ‘the fast lane’), and the rest are subject to far fewer options in terms of services, and even upon growing and gaining market share, will be denied the opportunity to shop around for different ISP plans that suit them best.”
Read Warren’s full plan for rural America here.