Big Data for Small Cities

US House Passes Moving Forward Act in a Bid to Improve Local Broadband Infrastructure

As a part of their Rebuild With Us campaign, the National League of Cities (NLC) announced that the US House of Representatives recently passed the Moving Forward Act, a bill designed to increase federal investment in broadband infrastructure on a municipal level. While the bill also includes investments in public safety, broadband consumer protections, affordability and digital equity, there is a significant focus on new provisions to help smaller cities that might be struggling. These provisions include building new or updating existing broadband infrastructure, allowing more flexibility when it comes to investing in local broadband, and prioritizing connectivity for rural areas. All of which could prove to be valuable investments as online communication has become increasingly valuable in the wake of the current pandemic.

Infrastructure Building and Update Investments

First off, the Moving Forward Act contains $80 billion to build broadband infrastructure for cities and towns currently without or improve potentially lackluster services currently offered. These upgrades aim to lay the groundwork for impending high bandwidth needs as well as support necessary moves in the healthcare and corporate worlds toward telemedicine and video conferencing. Program funding is intended to emulate 2018’s WIFIA program for water infrastructure.

Local Broadband Investments

Additionally, the Moving Forward Act contains the Community Broadband Act, a bill designed to remove municipal restrictions on public, private-public partnership, and cooperative networks in many states. This bill would also provide tax credits for public and private-public broadband networks through 2028.

Connecting Rural Areas

This provision has the potential to be particularly beneficial to small towns and cities since, as the FCC reports, rural areas, which comprise nearly a quarter of the country’s population, lack access to broadband service. The Moving Forward Act provides $250 million in grants to both to create broadband infrastructure where it does not exist, and to improve the broadband and telecommunication abilities within public lands.

Given the increased importance and utility of electronic communications, the House passing the Moving Forward Act is one step toward potentially improving the lives of a large swath of the American populace. However, there is still work to be done. As the NLC reports, the US Senate is set to vote on a less ambitious version of the House bill that includes eased restrictions on broadband infrastructure permitting but lacks the robust investment in new or improved infrastructure and fails to make connecting rural areas a priority. Keep an eye out for updates from the NLC via the CitiesSpeak Blog or contact your Senator to learn more about their version of the bill.

Share This Post:

This entry was posted in City Clerk Cafe, Latest News, Small Cities, Technology. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.