Elizabeth Warren calls for $85 billion public broadband investment

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren Wednesday unveiled a plan to invest $85 billion in publicly owned and operated broadband networks to expand internet access in the U.S., with a particular focus on underserved rural areas.

The senator from Massachusetts, who has rolled out a series of policy proposals on everything from Wall Street to climate change, immigration and the economy, announced the plan just before a road trip to Iowa, which will vote in the Democratic nominating contest on February 3.

The plan envisions an $85 billion federal grant to create "fiber infrastructure necessary to bring high-speed broadband to unserved areas, underserved areas, or areas with minimal competition," according to a Medium post detailing the proposal.

In many areas of rural America, entire communities don't have the broadband access that is taken for granted in most big U.S. cities and metropolitan areas.

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Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during the 2020 Public Service Forum hosted by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) at UNLV on August 3, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during the 2020 Public Service Forum hosted by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) at UNLV on August 3, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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The intiative would also restore the Obama administration's rules on net neutrality, which refers to regulations that make certain internet-service providers treat all online traffic equally. Activists have slammed the Trump administration for essentially overturning the regulations.

Warren would also set aside $5 billion specifically for federal grants to expand broadband access on Native American lands.

These grants, like most of Warren's major proposals, would be funded by an "ultra-millionaire tax," a 2 percent levy on wealth greater than $50 million and an additional 1 percent tax on wealth above $1 billion.

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