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Florida could take action on broadband expansion in 2022

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Some nonprofit organizations say the FCC is not rolling out benefits for low-income families fast enough.

Florida lawmakers have talked for years about ways to expand broadband. But the upcoming legislative session might be a time for action.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ budget proposal includes $100 million for broadband and other infrastructure needs in rural communities.

The request comes as a newly opened Florida Office of Broadband is creating a map to show which areas of the state need better options for internet access. That map must be delivered to lawmakers by the end of June.

In 2021, the Federal Communications Commission began offering $50 a month to low-income families to pay for internet service. It was meant to be an emergency benefit during the pandemic, but will be offered permanently thanks to President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Nonprofits like the Florida State Hispanic Chamber and the Florida Alliance of Consumers and Taxpayers say the FCC is not rolling out the benefit fast enough.

Bradley George was a Morning Edition host and reporter at WUSF until March 2022.