Key Committee Passes Sinema-Backed Bill Expanding Access to Broadband for Arizonans

Mar 13, 2020

WASHINGTON – The Senate Commerce Committee passed the ACCESS BROADBAND Act—bipartisan legislation backed by Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema that streamlines the broadband application process for Arizonans, expanding access to broadband services for rural and tribal communities.
“High-speed internet allows rural and tribal communities throughout Arizona increased access to health care, education, and jobs,” said Sinema. “Simplifying the broadband application process helps Arizonans apply for critical broadband resources, ensuring all Arizona communities have the connectivity they need.”
Sinema is a longtime advocate for closing Arizona’s digital divide, working to ensure every Arizonan can access quality high-speed internet and the opportunities that come with it. Earlier this year, Sinema secured a priority window for tribal communities in Arizona to apply for broadband licenses, allowing tribes across Arizona the opportunity to increase their connectivity and close the digital divide. 
In addition to directing private investment in rural broadband by championing the ACCESS Rural America Act in the U.S. House, Sinema signed a bipartisan letter to the FCC last year, urging them to make public investments to connect rural communities with dependable voice and internet services. Additionally, the Sinema-backed Broadband DATA Act passed the Senate Commerce Committee last year. The bill improves the accuracy of the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband availability maps by improving the process by which broadband data is collected. Broadband maps help inform where billions of dollars in federal broadband funds should be directed. Inaccurate maps delay spending and misdirect broadband funds to the wrong places.
As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Sinema has spoken in hearings on the need to expand 3G connectivity in rural areas and improve broadband mapping. Last year, Sinema shared the concerns of Arizonans living in Sunscape, an RV resort in Pinal County, who lacked reliable cell service. The residents could not reliably call 911 in the event of an emergency. Sinema underscored that in the conversation around 5G connectivity, all Arizonans must first have reliable 3G connectivity. Shortly after the hearing, Verizon Wireless confirmed they would build a cell tower to service the residents of Sunscape.