Pingree Backs Bill to Bring Greater Local Control to Broadband Projects, Lower Consumer Costs
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) has cosponsored legislation empowering local communities to improve broadband access by building their own networks. H.R. 4814, the Community Broadband Act of 2018, would lift restrictions that have prohibited municipalities from competing with private Internet providers.
“In the 21st century, broadband Internet is simply a necessity to run a business or just go about our every day lives. In places where access is lacking, municipalities should have the power to invest in their own networks and build out this vital piece of infrastructure,” said Pingree. “But in states across the country, prohibitive laws keep them from doing so because it creates competition for private Internet providers. I’m proud to support this legislation because increased competition is exactly what we need to expand broadband access in underserved areas while lowering costs for consumers.”
H.R. 4814 says states cannot write laws that interfere with local governments’ ability to create local and municipal broadband networks. Across the country, existing Internet service providers have successfully lobbied state legislatures to pass such laws with the promise of expanding broadband networks on their own—a promise that is often broken.
This bill would prevent legislative efforts by large ISPs, like one that came before Maine’s state legislature just last year, from stopping local governments from building their own, more affordable broadband infrastructure. Several Maine communities are already in the process of doing so.
A member of the Rural Broadband Caucus, Pingree has been a champion of expanding broadband access in Maine.
- In November, she cosponsored the bipartisan Broadband Connections for Rural Opportunities Program (B-CROP) Act to make grants available to rural areas—funding between 50 and 75 percent of a broadband project’s cost—as well as increase loan funding for projects.
- She wrote to the President Trump early in his Administration asking that he include broadband in his infrastructure package
- Last April, she held a roundtable with members of the Maine Broadband Coalition to hear about Maine communities’ broadband needs and challenges.