Sen. Elizabeth Warren Proposes $85 Billion Grant To Expand Internet Access In Rural Areas

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Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has announced a plan to expand internet access in rural areas, aiming to give every home in America fiber broadband at an affordable price.

She has proposed a $85 billion grant program for nonprofits and local governments to build fiber networks, as well as protections for cities that want to run their own broadband services. And it would overhaul a deeply flawed reporting system that’s hidden huge service gaps across the country.

Warren laid out her public option for broadband in a policy paper released this morning.

Warren’s plan would create an Office of Broadband Access in her newly founded Department of Economic Development. The broadband office would distribute $85 billion to utility cooperatives, nonprofit organizations, tribes, and cities or counties, giving them funds to lay fiber in unserved areas, underserved areas, or areas with minimal competition.

In return, these groups would offer a plan that reached 100 Mbps as well as one discount plan for low-income customers. At least $5 billion of that grant money would go specifically to tribal nations.

Warren also wants to overturn state laws that limit or ban municipal broadband networks — currently on the books in 26 states.

She also wants the Federal Communications Commission to restore net neutrality and require more accurate and detailed reports from ISPs — another issue that’s been widely discussed among tech policy experts.