Johnson, Spanberger Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Broadband Internet Speeds, Close Digital Divide

March 9, 2021
Press Release
The Speedy Updates Act Would Require a Report on How Best to Update Speed Thresholds Used to Determine High-Speed Internet Connectivity in South Dakota

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-SD) and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) today introduced legislation to ensure that new broadband networks are built to provide rural internet customers with sufficient upload and download speeds.

Since 2015, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) broadband mapping data has relied on the same speed threshold to define whether an area can be said to have adequate broadband service. However, this threshold is already outdated due to new and emerging internet technologies — meaning rural residents who technically meet the current threshold could still lack the ability to connect to cutting-edge internet services.

To address this challenge, the bipartisan Speedy Updates Act would help update broadband internet speed thresholds. Specifically, the Spanberger-Johnson legislation would require the Government Accountability Office to conduct an evaluation and write a report on the efficacy of the FCC’s existing process for establishing, reviewing, and updating its speed thresholds for broadband service.

“As Congress makes record investments in broadband connectivity, we need to ensure our programs promote speeds that keep pace with today and tomorrow’s business speeds,” said Johnson. “The Speedy Updates Act of 2021 will make sure the FCC prioritizes speed in rural America.”

“As we focus on making historic investments in internet connectivity, we need to ensure the infrastructure we build will reflect the growing need for faster downloads and uploads. Even in areas of Virginia with existing broadband internet access, many homes and businesses are experiencing lags in their service when using the latest apps and programs — simply because technology is rapidly advancing,” said Spanberger. “Our bipartisan legislation would review the FCC’s process for updating speed thresholds and help make future recommendations about how to keep up with these changes. With this additional information, we can make sure Central Virginia’s rural communities can both increase local internet access and take advantage of this progress for years to come.”

Click here to read the full legislation.