Press Releases

Long introduces bill aimed at improving broadband infrastructure in rural America

Washington, July 22, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Billy Long (MO-7) and Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) released the following statement after H.R. 3869, the Internet Exchange (IX) Act, was introduced in the House. The bill aims to strengthen Internet access in rural and other underserved areas by promoting more Internet Exchanges across the country.

“We need to build up and expand rural broadband infrastructure,” said Rep. Long. “Too often, I hear stories of students, entrepreneurs, and families in rural areas that are unable to take advantage of economic, health and educational opportunities because they lack broadband access to the internet.”

“You can’t have a 21st century education, 21st century healthcare, or a 21st century business without access to 21st century internet,” said Sen. Blackburn. “The bipartisan IX Act will make big strides in closing the digital divide in rural areas by providing internet access to areas with the highest degree of need. Thank you to Rep. Billy Long for leading the effort to pass this legislation in the House so we can provide broadband access to more Americans.”

IXs are one of the building blocks around which the Internet is built. They are the physical locations where networks come together, and where content providers place content closer to end users to increase the speed and efficiency of networks. Currently, there are dozens of IXs nationwide but most of them are concentrated in big cities and in the coastal states.

The IX Act would authorize the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to administer a grant program that will establish or expand IX facilities and allow eligible E-rate (schools and libraries) and Telehealth program recipients to use available support to fund connections to and maintenance of points of presence at IX facilities.

Increasing the number of IXs across the country will result in a more resilient, competitive, and interconnected web (especially for households in more rural areas).

Original cosponsors of the bill include: Rep. David Kustoff (TN-8), Rep. Brett Guthrie (KY-2), Rep. Roger Marshall (KS-1), Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-3), Rep. James Comer (KY-1) and Rep. Steve Stivers (OH-15).

Senator Blackburn introduced companion legislation, S. 1166 , in the Senate in April.