Monday, June 21, 2010

Sens. Landrieu, Kerry Introduce Legislation to Boost Broadband Internet Access for Small Business

United States Senators Mary L. Landrieu [D-La.], chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and John F. Kerry, [D-Mass., pictured] introduced legislation to better assist small-business owners in accessing broadband Internet technology.

The "Small Business Broadband and Emerging Technology Enhancement Act of 2010" [S. 3506] addresses many of the recommendations from the Federal Communications Commission’s [FCC] March 2010 report -- entitled "Connecting America: The National Broadband Plan" -- which calls for increased broadband access for rural small businesses.

"Improving access to technology for small businesses, particularly in rural areas, is an important component to economic recovery," said Sen. Landrieu. "With access to broadband Internet, a small firm that once was confined to a single town has the ability to reach a new customer base on the opposite side of the world. Louisiana is home to some of the most rural, underserved areas in the country. By assisting rural firms in upgrading their technology, I am committed to making these small businesses play an active role in jump-starting local economies.

"The FCC has done an extensive evaluation of the effects of advanced technology on small-business growth. The adoption of many of the recommendations of this report will support small businesses interested in expanding their operations. The Small Business Committee is dedicated to providing added assistance to these small businesses, and this legislation puts us on the path to doing so."

Sen. Kerry, a member of the Small Business Committee and its former chair, noted that the legislation will serve his constituents well. "Universal broadband access will empower small businesses across Massachusetts," he said. "It means greater connectivity for employees, while giving local businesses global access, allowing a shop in Western Massachusetts to make sales in Western Europe.

"Today, broadband is essential to the success of our small businesses. I commend Sen. Landrieu for championing the effort to connect them."

The legislation introduced by Sens. Landrieu and Kerry would:

* Create a Broadband and Emerging Technology Coordinator within the SBA to better coordinate agency programs that assist small businesses in adopting, making innovations in, and using, broadband and other emerging technologies;

* Amend the mission of Small Business Development Centers [SBDCs] to include assisting small businesses in accessing broadband and other emerging technologies;

* Amend the mission of the Women’s Business Centers [WBCs] to include assisting women-owned small businesses in accessing broadband and other emerging technologies;

* Allows SBA 7[a], 504, and Microloan programs to include upgrading broadband technology under eligible uses;

* Create the "Rural Small Business Technology Pilot Program" to provide excess government-owned computers each year to qualified small businesses at little or no cost; and

* Require the SBA administrator, in consultation with the administrator of General Services, to submit a report to the committee on opportunities at SBA, through deployment of technology in its district offices, to assist with the development of broadband and wireless technology for local small businesses.

In April, the Small Business Committee held a hearing to discuss efforts to increase broadband accessibility. The hearing specifically highlight the FCC National Broadband Plan, which included several Landrieu recommendations. Yos can view information from the hearing at:

To view the complete text of the "Small Business Broadband and Emerging Technology Enhancement Act of 2010," S. 3506, please go to:

To keep apprised of national broadband-related developments and events, please visit:

To read the complete text of the FCC's National Broadband Plan, please go to:

SOURCES: Federal Communications Commission, Library of Congress, U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
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