On April 17, a group of senators introduced the Digital Equity Act of 2019 that aims to fund state and local projects to help narrow the “digital divide” by promoting wider access to communications technologies.
The bill would create $120 million in grant funding to create “digital equity” plans, along with an additional $120 million in grant funding to support projects by individuals and groups.
The legislation was introduced by Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Patty Murray, D-Wash., and co-sponsored by Sens. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Angus King, I-Maine, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. A companion bill is expected to be introduced in the House.
“As we rely more on technology in our everyday lives, we have to make sure that every family has access to broadband – regardless of their zip code,” said Sen. Klobuchar, who is co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus.
In addition to funding that would be created by the bill, the measure would task the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) with providing guidance on digital equity projects. NTIA would also be responsible for evaluating the projects.