Warren pushes for public broadband networks

Warren pushes for public broadband networks
© Greg Nash

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOn The Money: Trump officials struggle to get relief loans out the door | Dow soars more than 1600 points | Kudlow says officials 'looking at' offering coronavirus bonds Overnight Energy: Trump floats oil tariffs amid Russia-Saudi dispute | Warren knocks EPA over 'highly dangerous' enforcement rollback | 2019 sees big increase in methane levels in air Ex-CFPB director urges agency to 'act immediately' to help consumers during pandemic MORE (D-Mass.) on Wednesday released a proposal to invest in rural America, saying she would push to create publicly owned high-speed internet networks across the country to address the lack of broadband access in rural and low-income areas.

The proposal is part of a wide-ranging policy plan aimed at addressing the needs of rural America.

In a blog post on Medium, Warren likened the lack of internet access in rural areas to the building out of electric grids nearly a century ago.

“Just like the electric companies eighty years ago, today’s biggest internet service providers (ISPs) have left large parts of the country unserved or dramatically underserved,” Warren wrote.

“This ends when I’m President. I will make sure every home in America has a fiber broadband connection at a price families can afford. That means publicly-owned and operated networks — and no giant ISPs running away with taxpayer dollars.”

Her plan includes passing a federal law ensuring cities’ right to establish municipally owned broadband networks. Proponents of public broadband options argue that they would inject some much-needed competition into the ISP industry, where U.S. consumers are often left with few options and high prices.

Warren argued that, unlike telecom giants, public broadband networks wouldn’t face market pressures that don’t incentivize building out their infrastructure to hard-to-reach places.

She also vowed to create an $85 billion grant program managed by the Department of Economic Development that would fund broadband efforts by nonprofits, co-ops and municipalities.

As part of her plan, Warren said she would appoint commissioners to the Federal Communications Commission who would restore the agency’s net neutrality rules, which designated ISPs as common carriers and prohibited them from restricting access to any websites.

“Our failure to invest in rural areas is holding back millions of families, weakening our economy, and undermining our efforts to combat climate change. It’s time to fix this,” Warren wrote.