Trump needs to do more to get more Americans online

Trump needs to do more to get more Americans online

President Trump’s massive infrastructure plan may speed your commute, if it passes, but it almost certainly won’t help you browse the web any faster.

The plan barely mentions broadband infrastructure — the systems of cables, wires, conduits, towers and transmitters that bring the internet to you. The word “broadband” appears only four times in the 53-page document, and that’s not because the White House threw in a lot of synonyms. The plan reserves no money for broadband expansion, nor does it offer any action items for broadband beyond urging Congress to make it easier for wireless carriers to install smaller transmitters.

Considering Congress’ general inability to make progress in tech policy, no matter how obvious the need, the House and the Senate probably won’t revise this plan to make a dent in the lingering problem of inadequate online access. But if they wanted to, here’s what they could do with it.

Dig once, for once

The most obvious missing internet-access ingredient is a two-word phrase: “dig once.” The infrastructure plan doesn’t require that projects paid for with the $1.5 trillion in new spending it projects (of which only $200 billion would come from the federal government) include capacity for broadband.

Dig-once rules aren’t a new idea — Rep. Anna Eshoo (D.-Calif.) first proposed a bill making them part of federal infrastructure projects in 2009 — but Congress regularly fails to pass any.

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