Luján Chairs Broadband Subcommittee Hearing Focused on Ensuring Solutions to Meet America’s Broadband Needs

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Chair of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, convened the final subcommittee hearing of the 117th Congress titled “Ensuring Solutions to Meet America’s Broadband Needs.”

Millions of Americans live in rural, Tribal, and low-income urban areas that do not have access to affordable broadband. Congress has provided support for fixed and mobile broadband, including through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). New federal support for broadband access, affordability and inclusion will bring us closer to closing the digital divide and achieving digital equity. This hearing examined ongoing and past efforts within the public and private sectors to bring affordable, resilient and secure broadband to all communities.

Senator Luján’s witnesses included Kimball Sekaquaptewa, Chair of the Connect New Mexico Council and Chief Technology Director for the Santa Fe Indian School, and an advocate for connecting communities across New Mexico.

Video of the hearing is available HERE. Senator Luján’s full opening remarks are available HERE.

An excerpt of Senator Luján’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

Congress provided $65 billion dollars for broadband in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to fundamentally reshape the landscape of connectivity in the United States. The law deploys broadband, supports adoption, and requires new rules for inclusion and equity. This is a historic, bipartisan commitment to close the digital divide and ensure that everyone is able to participate in the digital economy and our interconnected world.

But now it’s time to put those resources to work. Congress must ensure that our Federal, Tribal, State, and local partners are able to deploy these resources efficiently to address real need and not maximize corporate profits. Every village, colonia, Tribe and Pueblo in New Mexico and across the nation deserves equal access to the opportunities this law provides.

We must also continue to find long-term solutions to make broadband access equitable across the United States. That’s why I introduced the Digital Equity Foundation Act to create an ongoing source of funds for digital literacy, equity and inclusion on an ongoing and sustained basis. As the pace of technological development continues to accelerate, we’ll always have a divide between those who have access and those who need it. We must weave digital equity into the fabric of connectivity in America.

This bill would supplement the existing Digital Equity program that was included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. It would create a permanent foundation to ensure long-term nationwide initiatives that can truly reshape the future of the United States. In addition, though funding is just beginning to go out for the Digital Equity, for BEAD, for Tribal Broadband, and for Affordable Connectivity, we will need to find permanent funding for these priorities.

Today, tens of millions of Americans don’t have a choice between internet service providers. Their options are limited to whoever has cable running to their apartment, or fiber to their house, or wireless service in their valley. There are too many communities where market forces have failed. Congress acted to ensure that the millions of Americans who do not currently have access to affordable broadband gain that access and today’s discussion will focus on making that a reality. ###


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