Marino bill would increase broadband deployments in rural America

U.S. Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) on Sept. 25 introduced the Rural Broadband Connectivity Act of 2018 to improve the deployment of broadband in the nation’s unserved and underserved rural areas.

H.R. 6871 would allow for a credit against tax for using a property located in a qualified rural census tract to provide or expand broadband service, according to text of the bill.

“The Rural Broadband Connectivity Act provides a wide-reaching solution that will serve as a tremendous step forward in bridging the digital divide,” Rep. Marino said. “This legislation will spur efforts to unleash private capital to ensure that no American is left behind the opportunity curve based on where they live.”

H.R. 6871, which is cosponsored by four Republican House members, would incentivize more private investment in broadband deployment for areas such as Rep. Marino’s 10th Congressional District in Pennsylvania, located in the southern portion of the state.

“By unleashing private capital and channeling those funds correctly, we can ensure the build out of infrastructure to provide connectivity to our rural citizens,” the lawmaker said. “More connectivity means better living standards that will provide modern teleworking, telemedicine, digital learning, and allow our agricultural producers access to innovation that will benefit them in the fields.”

If enacted, H.R. 6871 would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to add the rural broadband credit for any taxable year in an amount equal to 30 percent of the basis of qualified broadband property placed in service by the taxpayer during such taxable year, according to the bill’s text.

The amount of the credit allowable to a taxpayer for any property for a taxable year would not be permitted under H.R. 6871 “to exceed an amount equal to the product of the value of the number of qualified potential customers served by the qualifying broadband project for which such property is necessary, multiplied by $170.”

This is critical for more access to connectivity, according to Rep. Marino’s office, because oftentimes it doesn’t make good business sense to invest in rural broadband deployment in areas where there aren’t a lot of potential customers. “This legislation changes that dynamic,” according to the congressman’s statement.

H.R. 6871 has been referred to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee for consideration.