The San Juan Daily Star
Resident commissioner co-sponsors bill to expand high-speed connectivity
By The Star Staff
Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón and Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to which González Colón belongs, are co-leading legislation to eliminate barriers and promote projects that bring high-speed connectivity to disadvantaged communities and urban centers in Puerto Rico and the rest of the nation.
Reps. Tracey Mann (R-Kan.) and Michael Guest (R-Miss.) are also sponsors of the measure.
House Resolution (HR) 1752, the Eliminating Barriers to Rural Internet Development Grant Eligibility (E-BRIDGE) Act, seeks to remove obstacles to broadband projects in grants under the Economic Development Administration (EDA), including challenges that arise in the effort to complete the final leg of connecting to customers. which often delays broadband deployment in rural areas. It also ensures that local communities can partner with the private sector to carry out broadband projects and gives communities more flexibility to meet their financing matching requirements.
“More and more American citizens are regularly working, buying food and supplies, and receiving critical medical care without leaving their homes, thanks to high-speed broadband connections. These services and skills have become critical for many businesses and job creators. Unfortunately, many of our communities, particularly in rural America, still lack access to broadband. In some cases, just completing that so-called ‘last mile’ is what’s standing in the way of connecting people to a job they need,” Graves said. “The E-BRIDGE Act will help drive projects that attract jobs and businesses to expand economic development and opportunity in rural and poor communities.”
González Colón added that “[i]n rural areas and disadvantaged communities across the nation, opportunities for business development, distance education, remote work and telemedicine are limited by the challenge of bringing high-speed connectivity to that final stretch to homes, small businesses and community institutions.”
“E-BRIDGE is important to bridge the gap between these and developed urban centers,” she said. “Especially, in places like Puerto Rico, where communities are facing disaster recovery, we need to be able to rebuild a more resilient network.”