Latta’s bipartisan bill would increase federal funding for rural broadband

U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) recently introduced the bipartisan Rural Connectivity Advancement Program (RCAP) Act of 2020 to ramp up federal funding for rural broadband development across the country.

“This bill will increase funding to further the buildout of broadband in rural communities so that Americans, including those who live in rural America, will be able to participate in our 21st-century economy,” Rep. Latta said.

Specifically, the U.S. House of Representatives’ bill, which has not yet been published in the congressional record, would facilitate such rural broadband buildout by capturing a portion of the proceeds from spectrum auctions conducted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) through Sept. 30, 2022, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Latta’s staff. 

U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) joined the congressman in introducing the bill, which is companion legislation to the same-named S. 4015 introduced in June by U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and Jerry Moran (R-KS). 

If enacted, the measure would set aside 10 percent of the net proceeds from FCC spectrum auctions for the buildout of broadband networks; permit the FCC to use the funds in a technology-neutral manner to address shortfalls in sufficient funding of existing programs for the buildout of broadband services; and require the FCC to consider the broadband internet access service needs of residents of tribal lands, among other provisions, according to the bill summary.

“Our country’s technological capabilities are revolutionizing the way Americans communicate and work with each other, but many Americans who live in rural communities are being left behind,” said Rep. Latta. “The internet is a critical driver of economic growth; it has become a lifeline to access healthcare, receive an education, earn a living, and more, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“It has become increasingly clear that access to broadband is a must-have to meet those goals, which is why it is critical to support efforts to close the digital divide,” he added.