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Sen Elizabeth Warren proposes $ 85 billion 'public option' for internet



Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren in the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign hosted by CNN at the Fox Theater in Detroit, Michigan on July 30, 2019.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

Democratic presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren unveiled a proposal to provide universal high-speed internet access on Wednesday as part of a new plan to invest in rural communities.

"I want to make sure every home in America has affordability," the Massachusetts senator wrote in a post on the blogging platform Medium. [1

9559002] Warren said she would create a federal Office of Broadband Access to manage $ 85 billion grant program.

And, she wrote, her administration would "pre-empt" laws on the books in 26 states that discourage or prevent municipalities from building their own broadband infrastructure.

"The federal government wants to pay 90 cents on the dollar for construction under these grants," Warren wrote "In exchange, applicants want to offer high-speed public broadband directly to every home in their application area."

Applicants would at least megabits per second – almost enough to download a two-hour movie in a little over two minutes – in addition to at least one discount internet plan.

Five billion dollars would be earmarked to expand broadband access on Native American lands, according to the plan.

Warren, who calls for new rural investment plan calls for new antitrust action against hospital mergers, is the latest Democrat running for president to address broadband access in rural communities

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner, put forward a plan to invest $ 20 billion in rural broadband infrastructure. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont Independent, has published "high-speed Internet access and broadband services to every American."

Warren's proposal cites low rates of Internet access in rural communities.

About one in four people living in rural areas, and one in three people living on tribal lands, did not have access to minimum speed broadband, the proposal says, citing to FCC report released earlier this year. And in urban areas, Warren wrote, many low-income residents can not afford to connect to the Internet despite technically having access.

"One of the best tools for unlocking economic opportunity and advances in health care, like telemedicine, is access to reliable, high-speed Internet." In the twenty-first century, every home should have access to this technology – but we're not even close to that today, "Warren wrote.

As a precedent for the type of wide-scale infrastructure investment plan, Warren noted the dramatic investment in US electricity access in the mid-20th century.

"Just like the electric companies eighty years ago, today's biggest internet service providers (ISPs) have underscored themselves," she wrote.

Warren wrote that the plan to get paid for by "changing the Tax laws that encourage companies to merge and reduce competition. "


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