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Brown, Portman Support Expanding Broadband Access


Ohio's U.S. senators are calling on Congress to expand broadband around the country noting the growing importance the internet has played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) are backing a piece of legislation that would build-up internet access in underserved areas like rural communities.

The Rural Broadband Acceleration Act would put $20.4 billion towards building rural broadband in two phases. A statement from Brown and Portman's office says the legislation will "ensure that some of that money is distributed to communities much faster than the original deadline" for the Federal Communication Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

Brown is also sponsoring the Emergency Broadband Connections Act  which would create a benefit to help low-income people pay for internet service.

Brown says broadband should be treated like an essential service.

"Increasingly people look at it as a utility model. We need to extend electricity to everybody, we need to make sure people have water, we need to make sure people have broadband. All of those enhance people's quality of life and just their ability to exist," says Brown.

The bill to expand broadband access in underserved areas also has bipartisan support in the U.S. House.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.