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March 11, 2021

King, Collins, Manchin Introduce Bill to Provide Broadband Hotspots to Rural Americans

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Angus King (I-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Joe Manchin (D-WV)introduced the Hotspo ts and Online Technology and Services Procurement for our Tribes and States (HOTSPOTS) Act.  This bipartisan bill would create a 2-year, $200 million hotspot pilot program with a minimum allotment of $2 million per State to allow States, Tribes, and Territories to purchase and distribute Internet-connected devices to libraries in low-income and rural areas.  The HOTSPOTS Act is co-sponsored by seven Senators.

“During this pandemic, a high-speed broadband connection has helped millions of Americans continue their studies, work remotely, or access crucial medical care,” said Senator King. “The problem is, not every American has access to a high-speed broadband connection, leaving too many American communities – especially in rural or underserved areas– on the outside looking in during these immensely challenging times. We can help bridge the digital divide by helping local institutions, like the town library or the community center, provide internet-connected devices like broadband hotspots so more Americans can access these vital tools.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans have had to move their studies, health care services, and workplaces online. This transition has been particularly difficult for those who do not have access to a reliable Internet connection at home,” said Senator Collins.  “Our bipartisan bill would establish a hotspot pilot program that would provide Internet-connected devices for libraries to distribute, helping to close the digital divide for rural and low-income residents in Maine and throughout the country.”

“Every American and West Virginian has adjusted to a new way of learning, working, and living due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For most Americans, this new lifestyle relies on affordable, reliable broadband access that many rural Americans simply don’t have,” said Senator Manchin. “I am proud to introduce the bipartisan HOTSPOTS Act to help address the challenges our low-income and rural West Virginians and Americans are facing during the pandemic by helping libraries across rural America quickly provide broadband hotspots to their communities.”

Led by Senators Collins and Manchin and co-sponsored by Senator King, the HOTSPOTS Act is also co-sponsored by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Mike Crapo (R-ID), John Boozman (R-AR), Mark Warner (D-VA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and John Cornyn (R-TX).

Last month, Senator Collins introduced the American Broadband Buildout Act (ABBA), a bipartisan bill that would help close the “digital divide” between urban and rural America by providing up to $15 billion in matching grants to assist states and state-approved entities build infrastructure to bring high-speed broadband directly to homes and businesses.

Click HERE for background information on the HOTSPOTS Act.

Click HERE to read the text of the bill.

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