IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
April 24, 2007
Mr. Durbin (for himself, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Obama) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
To promote the deployment and adoption of telecommunications services and information technologies, and for other purposes.
This Act may be cited as the
Connect The Nation
Congress finds the following:
The deployment and adoption of broadband services and information technology has resulted in enhanced economic development and public safety for communities across the Nation, improved health care and educational opportunities, and a better quality of life for all Americans.
Continued progress in the deployment and adoption of broadband and other advanced information services is vital to ensuring that our Nation remains competitive and continues to create business and job growth.
The Federal Government should also recognize and encourage complementary state efforts to improve the quality and usefulness of broadband data and should encourage and support the partnership of the public and private sectors in the continued growth of broadband services and information technology for the residents and businesses of the Nation.
Encouraging State initiatives to improve broadband
The purposes of any grant under subsection (b) are—
to ensure that all citizens and businesses in a State have access to affordable and reliable broadband service;
to achieve improved technology literacy, increased computer ownership, and home broadband use among such citizens and businesses;
to establish and empower local grassroots technology teams in each State to plan for improved technology use across multiple community sectors; and
to establish and sustain an environment ripe for broadband services and information technology investment.
Establishment of State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program
The Secretary of Commerce shall award grants, taking into account the results of the peer review process under subsection (d), to eligible entities for the development and implementation of statewide initiatives to identify and track the availability and adoption of broadband services within each State.
Any grant under subsection (b) shall be awarded on a competitive basis.
To be eligible to receive a grant under subsection (b), an eligible entity shall—
submit an application to the Secretary of Commerce, at such time, in such manner, and containing such information as the Secretary may require; and
contribute matching non-Federal funds in an amount equal to not less than 20 percent of the total amount of the grant.
The Secretary shall by regulation require appropriate technical and scientific peer review of applications made for grants under this section.
The regulations required under paragraph (1) shall require that any technical and scientific peer review group—
be provided a written description of the grant to be reviewed;
provide the results of any review by such group to the Secretary of Commerce; and
certify that such group will enter into voluntary nondisclosure agreements as necessary to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of confidential and propriety information provided by broadband service providers in connection with projects funded by any such grant.
Use of Funds
A grant awarded to an eligible entity under subsection (b) shall be used—
to provide a baseline assessment of broadband service deployment in each State;
to identify and track—
areas in each State that have low levels of broadband service deployment;
the rate at which residential and business adopt broadband service and other related information technology services; and
possible suppliers of such services;
to identify barriers to the adoption by individuals and businesses of broadband service and related information technology services, including whether or not—
the demand for such services is absent; and
the supply for such services is capable of meeting the demand for such services;
to create and facilitate in each county or designated region in a State a local technology planning team—
with members representing a cross section of the community, including representatives of business, telecommunications labor organizations, K-12 education, health care, libraries, higher education, community-based organizations, local government, tourism, parks and recreation, and agriculture; and
benchmark technology use across relevant community sectors;
set goals for improved technology use within each sector; and
develop a tactical business plan for achieving its goals, with specific recommendations for online application development and demand creation;
to work collaboratively with broadband service providers and information technology companies to encourage deployment and use, especially in unserved and underserved areas, through the use of local demand aggregation, mapping analysis, and the creation of market intelligence to improve the business case for providers to deploy;
to establish programs to improve computer ownership and Internet access for unserved and underserved populations;
to collect and analyze detailed market data concerning the use and demand for broadband service and related information technology services;
to facilitate information exchange regarding the use and demand for broadband services between public and private sectors; and
to create within each State a geographic inventory map of broadband service, which shall—
identify gaps in such service through a method of geographic information system mapping of service availability at the census block level; and
provide a baseline assessment of statewide broadband deployment in terms of households with high-speed availability.
For each State, an eligible entity may not receive a new grant under this section to fund the activities described in subsection (d) within such State if such organization obtained prior grant awards under this section to fund the same activities in that State in each of the previous 4 consecutive years.
Each recipient of a grant under subsection (b) shall submit a report on the use of the funds provided by the grant to the Secretary of Commerce.
In this section:
The term eligible entity means a non-profit organization that is selected by a State to work in partnership with State agencies and private sector partners in identifying and tracking the availability and adoption of broadband services within each State.
The term nonprofit organization means an organization—
described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and exempt from tax under section 501(a) of such Code;
no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any member, founder, contributor, or individual;
that has an established competency and proven record of working with public and private sectors to accomplish widescale deployment and adoption of broadband services and information technology; and
the board of directors of which is not composed of a majority of individuals who are also employed by, or otherwise associated with, any Federal, State, or local government or any Federal, State, or local agency.
The term broadband service means any service that connects to the public Internet that provides a data transmission-rate equivalent to at least 200 kilobits per second, or 200,000 bits per second, or any successor transmission-rate established by the Federal Communications Commission, in at least 1 direction.
Authorization of Appropriations
There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section $40,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2008 through 2012.
No Regulatory Authority
Nothing in this Act shall be construed as giving any public or private entity established or affected by this Act any regulatory jurisdiction or oversight authority over providers of broadband services or information technology.