Vowing to take on the telecom giants that have monopolized the web for private profit, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday unveiled a $150 billion plan to make the internet a public utility, break up and tightly regulate corporate behemoths like Verizon and AT&T, and provide high-speed broadband for everyone in the United States.
"Our tax dollars built the internet. It should be a public good for all, not another price-gouging profit machine for Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
"It is outrageous that across the country millions of Americans and so many of our communities do not have access to affordable high-speed internet," Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said in a statement. "Access to the internet is a necessity in today's economy, and it should be available for all."
Sanders vowed that, if elected president in 2020, he will ensure that every American household has affordable and high-speed internet by the end of his first term.
"Just as President Roosevelt fundamentally made America more equal by bringing electricity to every farm and rural community over 80 years ago, as president, I will do the same with high-speed internet," Sanders said.
The internet as we know it was developed by taxpayer-funded research, using taxpayer-funded grants in taxpayer-funded labs.
Our tax dollars built the internet.
It should be a public good for all, not another price-gouging profit machine for Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) December 6, 2019
Sanders' plan, posted on his website, would provide $150 billion in federal funding through the Green New Deal to help states and municipalities "build publicly owned and democratically controlled, co-operative, or open access broadband networks."
The proposal also calls for:
- Reinstating the net neutrality protections that President Donald Trump's telecom-friendly FCC repealed in 2017;
- Using anti-trust laws to break up internet and cable monopolies;
- Ensuring that all public housing in the U.S. offers free broadband;
- Requiring all providers to "offer a Basic Internet Plan that provides quality broadband speeds at an affordable price"; and
- Guaranteeing that all new broadband infrastructure is "resilient to the effects of climate change" and "capable of managing high amounts of renewable energy."
"High-speed internet service must be treated as the new electricity—a public utility that everyone deserves as a basic human right," reads Sanders' website. "It's time to take this critical 21st century utility out of the hands of monopolies and conglomerates and bring it to the people while creating good-paying, union jobs at the same time. This is not a radical idea."