Bill Would Subsidize Refurbished Broadband Access Devices

A bipartisan House bill has been introduced, the Broadband Adoption and Opportunity Act, that would supply low income students and residents with refurbished internet-access devices, targeting the equipment and education challenges of the digital divide. 

The devices would come from a combination of donations, lending and low-cost purchases. 

The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Tom O'Halleran (D-Ariz.) and Bill Johnson (R-Ohio). 

The bill would create a five-year pilot program within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an arm of the Commerce Department and the White House's chief communications policy adviser. 

NTIA would be directed to work with states, tribes, and the FCC on the best way to increase adoption rates among the underserved, increase awareness of low-cost programs--like the FCC's Lifeline broadband subsidies--and expand tech training so folks can learn how to use the refurbished devices, which would be supplied under a public-private partnership. 

NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, applauded the bill.  

“We commend Rep. O’Halleran for introducing the Broadband Adoption and Opportunity Act," NCTA said in a statement that O'Halleran included on his Web site. "This legislation creates a pilot program to support the availability of refurbished internet-capable devices available to low-income consumers through public-private partnerships that address an often overlooked barrier to broadband adoption. The bill will also encourage greater attention on the variety of factors impeding broadband adoption through the development of best practices bringing needed attention to successful strategies that help consumers make lasting connections to the Internet. As an industry committed to helping Americans connect and use broadband networks, we look forward to working with Congressman O’Halleran and other members of Congress on this legislation and these important issues.” 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.