The House today approved by voice vote the ACCESS BROADBAND Act (HR 3994), which would direct the Department of Commerce (DoC) to establish an Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

The new office would undertake a range of activities to promote further broadband service rollout including connecting with communities that need access to service, holding regional workshops to share best practices for promoting broadband access and adoption, developing broadband training programs for various demographic communities, and tracking construction and use of any broadband infrastructure built using Federal government support.

The new DoC office would report annually to Congress on the number of U.S. residents receiving broadband service as a result of Federal programs, including the Universal Service Fund, and on the estimated economic impact of broadband deployment efforts on local economies.   The new office would also consult with Federal agencies offering broadband support programs “in order to streamline the application process and create one application that may be submitted to apply for all Federal broadband support programs.”

The House bill approved today does not appear to have a companion bill in the Senate.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.