U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson. (Photo: Marshall Hoffman)

Democratic U.S. Representative Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Republican U.S. Representative Don Young of Alaska, with the bipartisan support of eight other representatives – including Minnesota’s Angie Craig — introduced The Universal Broadband Act today with a goal to ensure rural Americans have the opportunity to access reliable broadband services.

The Universal Broadband Act hopes to achieve this goal by expanding the Universal Service Fund (USF) contribution base to include broadband services, rather than the current model that draws support solely from telephone services. The costs of building out service to areas without adequate broadband continues to rise, while the current base that contributes to the USF is declining. This has resulted in an increasingly growing contribution factor, overburdening those who are required to contribute, say the bill’s authors.

“Reliable broadband is a utility, every bit as necessary as electricity,” said Rep. Peterson. “From distance learning to telehealth and the transitions of working from home during a public health crisis, broadband is more important than ever. It’s unacceptable that rural communities have limited, unreliable or worse yet no broadband access.” Peterson said the act would secure funding for the effort without having to increase the national debt.

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