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Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott introduce broadband expansion bill

By News

If Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott and Jim Clyburn get their way, more South Carolina residents may soon be connected to the information superhighway.

Graham and Scott introduced an act late last week that would expand broadband access to underserved rural areas.

“There are places in South Carolina you might as well be on the moon when it comes to getting high speed internet service,” Graham said. “All South Carolinians should be able to utilize the educational, telehealth and business benefits of accessible and affordable broadband. There is bipartisan support for expanding broadband access, and our legislation dramatically improves access in rural and underserved areas.”

“Connectivity is absolutely essential for South Carolina families and businesses,” Scott said. “Increased broadband access means more opportunity for underserved and rural communities, positively affecting everything from education and health care to business and workforce development.”

The act will provide $20 billion for broadband infrastructure utilizing fiber-optic cables, wireless, and 5G technologies, use a reverse auction method to provide top-quality broadband service at the lowest price for the American taxpayer, and base a state’s funding on their unserved (no internet access at all) and a percentage of their underserved populations to distribute funds to the areas of greatest need like rural America and Opportunity Zones.

More than 650,000 citizens lack internet or have adequate broadband speed across South Carolina, and nationally, this number nears 20 million. The State Fix Act aims to close that gap and ensure every American is able to reach their full potential and access life-changing tools to better their lives, families and communities.

Clyburn and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar introduced a broadband expansion bill in mid-March.

Markey urges bipartisanship in push to update broadband plan

By News

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said Monday he is hopeful there is bipartisan support in Congress to take action on updating national broadband plans.

His statement underscored the urgency of modernizing the plan to expand internet access as the coronavirus pandemic continues to highlight the digital divide.

“I’ve always believed that, essentially, telecommunications policy is bipartisan — should be bipartisan. You have to work hard to make it ideological,” Markey said during the INCOMPAS Policy Summit.

“My hope is that we’ll be able to really move forward in a way that reflects the ultimate need for bipartisanship,” he added.

On Sunday, Markey and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) reintroduced the National Broadband Plan for the Future Act, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the 1996 Telecommunications Act which transformed broadband deployment.

Markey and Eshoo’s legislation calls for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to update the national broadband plan in a way that addresses concerns highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic.

It would require the FCC to assess the U.S.’s progress in deploying broadband infrastructure since the 25-year-old plan was created, and develop a new roadmap for closing the digital divide.

“I’m proud of the roadmap that my previous provision created and the amazing progress we’ve made over the last decade. However, we still have a ways to go before we finish the job. During the coronavirus pandemic, we are seeing more than ever how necessary robust and affordable broadband is to the future of American life, education, jobs, and medical care,” Markey said in a statement.

Eshoo similarly called attention to issues of the digital divide emphasized by the pandemic, as professional and personal life has largely shifted online.

“From telehealth to remote learning to teleworking, high-speed internet is essential in our day-to-day lives. We must make broadband affordable and accessible for all Americans. That’s why I’m proud to reintroduce the National Broadband Plan for the Future Act to ensure all Americans have broadband,” Eshoo said in a statement.

Sen. Roger Wicker (Miss.), the top GOP member of the Senate Commerce Committee, signaled Republicans are willing to reach across the aisle to update the 1996 law.

“.@SenatorWicker looks forward to working with his colleagues to modernize aspects of the law to accelerate broadband deployment to unserved areas and promote continued investment and innovation in the communications sector,” the committee Republicans tweeted.

Housed within the 1996 law is the controversial Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides a legal liability shield for tech companies over content posted on their platforms by third parties.

Section 230 has increasingly come under fire from both sides of the aisle. Democrats argue tech companies aren’t doing enough to combat misinformation and hate speech, and Republicans have issued unsubstantiated claims that tech giants are censoring content in a way that demonstrates an anti- conservative bias.

$9.75 Million USDA ReConnect Rural Broadband Grant Goes to South Carolina County

By Blog, Latest News

– Joan Engebretson (telecompetitor)

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that it has awarded a $9.75 million ReConnect grant to Orangeburg County, S.C. The USDA ReConnect rural broadband grant will go toward making broadband available to 3,911 households, 21 farms, 17 rural businesses, 13 educational facilities, nine critical community facilities and a health care center, USDA said.”


MinuteClinic Launches Video Visit Offering in South Carolina

By Blog, Latest News

– CVS Health

“CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced that MinuteClinic, the company’s retail medical clinic, has rolled out its video visit offering in the state of South Carolina. People in South Carolina with minor illnesses, minor injuries and skin conditions can now seek care through MinuteClinic Video Visits, a telehealth offering. MinuteClinic Video Visits provide patients with access to care 24 hours a day, seven days a week from their mobile device or computer.”