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S 2307 IS, Rural Broadband Enhancement Act.
Re: subsidizing broadband deployment in rural areas.
Sponsor: Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND).
Date introduced: March 28, 2000.
Source: Library of Congress.

2d Session

S. 2307

To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to encourage broadband deployment to rural America, and for other purposes.


March 28, 2000

Mr. DORGAN (for himself, Mr. DASCHLE, Mr. BAUCUS, Mr. JOHNSON, and Mr. HARKIN) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation


To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to encourage broadband deployment to rural America, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Rural Broadband Enhancement Act'.


Section 254(e) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 254(e)) is amended--

    (1) by redesignating so much of the text of such subsection as follows `(e) UNIVERSAL SERVICE SUPPORT- ' as paragraph (1);

    (2) by inserting before `After' the following heading: `(1) IN GENERAL- '; and

    (3) by adding at the end the following:

      `(2) RURAL AREA BROADBAND SUPPORT- In addition to any other support provided under paragraph (1), the Commission shall, within 90 days after the date of enactment of the Rural Broadband Enhancement Act, initiate a proceeding to provide Federal universal service support for the deployment of broadband service (as defined in section 156(e)(1) of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act) to eligible rural communities (as defined in section 156(e)(2) of that Act). The proceeding shall be completed within 240 days. Federal universal service support provided as a result of that proceeding shall be determined without cost averaging of any above-average cost areas with any lower cost areas, such as would occur in statewide or study averaging, and may be used for the deployment of--

        `(A) loop treatments and digital subscriber line access multiplexers;

        `(B) cable modems;

        `(C) wireless technology; and

        `(D) satellite technology.'.


Part C of title I of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act (47 U.S.C. 901 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end thereof the following:


    `(a) IN GENERAL- The Rural Utilities Service of the Department of Agriculture, after consultation with the NTIA, shall make loans or other extensions of credit to companies certified as eligible telecommunications carriers providers, or that accept the obligations of an eligible telecommunications carrier, in accordance with the provisions of this section to finance the deployment of broadband telecommunications services to eligible rural communities.

    `(b) ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS- To be eligible for a loan or other extension of credit under this section, a project shall--

      `(1) be capable of delivering broadband service;

      `(2) be for the purpose of making access to broadband service available to an eligible rural community where broadband service is not otherwise generally available throughout that community; and

      `(3) be subject to the standards for service and area wide coverage applicable to other projects administered by the Rural Utilities Service.

    `(c) TERMS AND CONDITIONS- Loans made under this section--

      `(1) shall be made available in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990 (2 U.S.C. 661);

      `(2) shall bear interest at an annual rate of not more than 2 percent per annum; and

      `(3) shall be made for the longer of--

        `(A) a term of 30 years; or

        `(B) the useful life of the assets constructed, reconstructed, or acquired.

    `(d) Limitations-

      `(1) TECHNOLOGY NEUTRALITY- In making loans under this section, the Rural Utilities Service may not take into consideration the technology proposed to be employed.

      `(2) SECURITY INTEREST- The Rural Utilities Service may take a security interest in assets or revenue streams, in connection with a loan or other extension of credit made under this section, of not more than the amount sufficient to cover the assets financed by that loan or extension of credit.

    `(e) DEFINITIONS- In this section:

      `(1) BROADBAND SERVICE- The term `broadband service' includes, without regard to any particular transmission medium or technology, high-speed, switched, broadband telecommunications capable of delivering not less than 1.0 megabits of data per second to the user and 0.5 megabits of data per second from the user that enables users to originate and receive high-quality voice, data, graphics, and video telecommunications. The Commission shall, from time-to-time as circumstances warrant, revise the rate-of-data-transmission criteria stated in the preceding sentence upward to reflect technological advances, and the criteria, as so revised, shall be applied under the preceding sentence in lieu of the rate-of-data-transmission criteria stated or previously revised by the Commission under this sentence.

      `(2) ELIGIBLE RURAL COMMUNITY- The term `eligible rural community' means any incorporated or unincorporated place that--

        `(A) has not more than 20,000 inhabitants, based on the most recent available population statistics of the Bureau of the Census; and

        `(B) is not located in an area designated as a Metropolitan Area by the Office of Management and Budget.'.


There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of Agriculture to carry out the provisions of section 156 of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Organization Act $3,000,000,000 for fiscal years 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, through 2005, such amount to remain available until expended.


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