What is the fundamental issue?
REALTORS® support a comprehensive national policy to stimulate the deployment of broadband in underserved areas of the U.S., increase data speeds, and lower broadband prices.
I am a real estate professional. What does this mean for my business?
“Broadband” describes high-speed internet access provided by technology platforms, including cable, telephone wireline and wireless technologies. High-speed internet promotes community economic growth, creates jobs, and raises property values. However, millions of Americans continue to lack basic access to broadband internet service, and the absence of broadband makes underserved community less attractive for new investment and development. A national broadband policy will help promote economic growth and expand opportunities for all communities and real estate markets across the country.
- Every American should have access to a high-speed, world-class communications infrastructure;
- High-capacity broadband connectivity should be affordable and widely accessible; and
- A variety of options should be considered to encourage quality broadband deployment and adoption including action by the public and private sector.
On March 11, 2021, the American Rescue Plan was signed into law, which provides an additional $1.9 trillion in COVID relief. The bill created the Emergency Connectivity Fund, which provides $7.171 billion to reimburse schools and libraries for providing free broadband service (and connected devices) to students and patrons at their homes. The Emergency Connectivity Fund is a boost to the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) E-Rate Program which has helped make telecommunications services more affordable for schools and libraries. The bill also provides $350 billion to states for economic recovery purposes, including broadband infrastructure investments.
On December 27, 2020, Congress enacted the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 which included significant investments to increase broadband availability and accessibility for underserved populations:
- Provides additional $250M for Telehealth Program passed in the CARES Act.
- Provides $3.2 B for the creation of the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program which subsidizes broadband service for eligible households who suffered income loss during the pandemic or met other need-based criteria. The FCC may reimburse providers up to $50 for service to each eligible household or nontribal lands and $75 for service to each eligible household on tribal lands. FCC may also reimburse cost of providing a computer or tablet to eligible households. FCC issued regulations implementing this program. It expires six months after HHS terminates the COVID 19 public health emergency.
- Provides $65 million to create broadband data maps required by the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act passed in March.
- Creates the Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives within the NTIA no later than June 25, 2021 and provides $285 million to create the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program to provide grants to eligible recipients to purchase broadband service and equipment.
- Creates two grants programs at NTIA—$1 billion to support broadband connectivity on tribal lands and $300 Million to support broadband infrastructure deployment to areas lacking broadband.
On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was enacted to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and included funding for broadband such as $200 million for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program to help health care providers give services to patients at their homes or mobile locations.
On March 23, 2020, the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act was enacted to change the way that FCC collects broadband data and create more accurate broadband maps.