April 24, 2020

Wyden Announces Plans to Re-introduce Community Broadband Act in Wake of Coronavirus Emergency

Bill aims to improve internet access in underserved communities, as millions of students, families struggle to learn, work remotely

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today announced he will reintroduce the Community Broadband Act to improve internet access in underserved communities as millions of students and families find themselves struggling to learn and work remotely during the coronavirus public health emergency.

“Access to broadband is a must for communities to thrive in Oregon and nationwide. Oregon communities like Maupin and The Dalles have proven that municipal broadband can be a game changer in places without top-tier internet access,” Wyden said.

“The COVID-19 public health crisis spotlights that need for high-speed Internet access more than ever for homes now filled with adults working remotely and students tapping into the web for classroom assignments,” he said. “This legislation would provide help to those millions of Americans by knocking down obstacles to municipal broadband that can help now and in the future.”

The bill would ban any state, local, or tribal statute or regulation that prohibits cities from providing high-speed internet, thereby preserving and protecting the rights of cities and localities to build municipal broadband networks. Right now, more than two dozen states restrict local communities from building their own broadband networks. Municipal broadband can often provide an affordable, reliable option for rural and low-income communities that face persistent barriers to high-speed internet access.

In addition to Wyden, other sponsors of the bill include U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Edward Markey (D-MA), Angus King (I-ME), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

The bill is endorsed by the following organizations: the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Public Knowledge, Free Press Action, the Center for Democracy and Technology, the Institute for Local Self Reliance, New America’s Open Technology Institute, Consumer Reports, the Telecommunications Industry Association, the Southern California Southern Tribal Chairmen’s Association, Ebay, and Google.