Building Bipartisan Congressional Support for Broadband Funding

THE CHALLENGE

In 2021, the COVID pandemic pushed the digital divide back into headlines. Leaders in Congress and the White House agreed that expanding access to broadband should be a priority in any “hard” infrastructure bill. The question, however, remained what solutions would be championed.

Senate leaders were being pulled in different policy directions, and some approaches under consideration were much better than others. Activists and academics, for example, were advocating for policies that would have directed resources away from the very communities that needed federal investment the most.

THE SOLUTION

To help push the Senate in a smart direction, a coalition of internet service providers turned to Advocus to launch a coalition, America’s Broadband Future, and to run a grasstops program that would build and demonstrate bipartisan support for smart policies that would finally close the digital divide.

Advocus hired and managed bipartisan grasstops teams in 16 states to target Members of Congress who were central to the legislative package. These teams recruited local third-party influencers like elected officials, former state cabinet members, chambers of commerce and community advocacy organizations to publish op-eds, post on social media, send letters and intercept targets at public events.

THE RESULT

Over the course of the campaign, Advocus’ teams mobilized hundreds of voices in support of meaningful broadband solutions. Our work surrounded Senators and their senior staff with messaging, so they heard and saw our appeals in their email inboxes, voicemail, social media feeds and news sources.

Due to the efforts of many, including Advocus, the campaign worked. The final Senate bill included $65 billion for high-speed internet, including $14.2 billion for a permanent broadband subsidy, $2.75 bill for digital equity and over $40 billion to expand broadband with clear language prioritizing underserved communities.

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