Senate Committee Approves Broadband Bill

November 11, 2015

pic-tech-worldOn Oct. 7, the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee unanimously approved the Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information Technology Enhancement Act (S. 2116). The bipartisan legislation was introduced by committee Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) on Oct. 1, and is cosponsored by Chairman David Vitter (R-La.). The legislation seeks to expand opportunities for small businesses to utilize broadband internet across all sectors of the economy.

While broadband access in some regions has existed for years, in many parts of the country—especially in rural areas—access to broadband is still not readily available. Acknowledging the important role that broadband access plays in driving job creation and connecting businesses to their customers, the legislation attempts to expand broadband access and training to small businesses throughout the country.

The legislation would require the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to designate a senior staff member from the Office of Investment and Innovation to serve as a broadband coordinator. Under S. 2116, the coordinator will laisse with other federal agencies involved with broadband deployment policy and coordinate programs at SBA that will assist small businesses in adopting and using broadband and other emerging information technologies. The coordinator also will identify and catalog training and tools that are available through SBA and its partners that train small businesses to adopt and use broadband. Finally, the coordinator would be required to submit reports to both the Senate Small Business and  Entrepreneurship Committee and House Small Business Committee every two years detailing the SBA’s activities relating to broadband.

NSBA and its hi-tech council the Small Business Technology Council (SBTC) supports S. 2116 and recognizes that in many ways broadband access levels the playing field between small businesses and much larger firms. NSBA favors expanding reliable and affordable broadband access to as many small businesses as possible and supports efforts by both the private and public sectors to do so.

Currently no companion legislation has been introduced in the House yet and with a full legislative calendar for the remainder of the year, it is not expected that S. 2116 will come to a vote until early next year. Click here to see the full text of S. 2116.