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Baldwin’s Bipartisan Reform to Improve Internet Access in Rural America Passes Senate Commerce Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Senate Commerce Committee passed the Internet Exchange (IX) Act (S. 1166), legislation authored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to help improve internet access for consumers, especially those in rural areas. The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

“We need to strengthen our internet infrastructure to better serve Middle America and rural communities, and improve the online experience for people in all parts of our country,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’m proud that my bipartisan measure earned the approval of the Senate Commerce Committee today because it will help expand broadband access across our country. By investing in our internet infrastructure and adding more internet exchanges in Wisconsin and throughout the heartland, we can help more rural households and rural businesses gain better access to high-speed internet.”

Internet Exchanges (IXs) are physical locations where networks come together – they allow subscribers of different internet service providers to communicate with one another. IXs also provide opportunities for content delivery networks (CDNs) and others to cache content closer to end-users, thus reducing latency and increasing network efficiency to improve the online experience for consumers, especially in rural areas.

IX facilities provide opportunities for data centers and cloud computing to be collocated at IX sites, thus increasing efficiency and boosting local economies. Currently, IXs are concentrated in big cities and in the coastal states.

This legislation authorizes matching grants to be administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to help establish new IX facilities where none exist, or to help an existing one expand.