White House Trumpets Broadband Bucks in 2020 Funding Bill

The White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy pointed to what they thought were the key tech-promoting funding initiatives in the just-passed 2020 appropriations  bill packages. 

In an e-mail, OSTP pointed to key tech funding, citing money for rural broadband; artificial intelligence (AI), and quantum computing as the highlights. 

Related: White House Updates AI R&D Plan 

The Department of Agriculture got $555 million for its ReConnect rural broadband program, a $5 million increase over 2019. In addition, the department got $87 million for distance learning, telemedicine and other broadband program grants, up $17.1 million over 2019. 

On the AI front, 1) the National Science Foundation got almost half a billion dollars ($492 million) for investment in AI; the National Institute of Standards and Technology got an $8 million increase over 2019 to $24 million for AI research and measurement, training, testing, modeling behavior and comparing systems; and 3) the Department of Energy got $71 million for AI research. All were funded at the levels President Trump requested. 

Trump earlier this year launched the American AI Initiative, which prioritizes AI R&D in those agencies' funding requests. It was an update of an AI R&D program under President Barack Obama. The President also last year signed the National Quantum Initiative Act and the funding bill puts its money where the President's pen was.  

The National Science Foundation got $106 million for research into "all aspects" of quantum information science, the National Institute of Standards and Technology gets $40 million to implement the National Quantum Initiative Act, which is up $10 million from 2019; and the Department of Energy go $195 million, $120 million for basic research and $75 million for up to five research centers mandated by the Act. 

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.