Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., introduced the TOWER Infrastructure Deployment Act (TOWER Act) with the goal of increasing broadband deployment across the country and addressing the workforce shortage within telecommunications industry.

“Our bill helps hardworking Arizonans gain the skills to succeed in the jobs of the future and helps bridge the digital divide in our state,” said Sinema in a statement.

The senators, both members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, said the TOWER Act “requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to improve and streamline workforce development programs to prepare for next-generation communications infrastructure.”

To achieve that goal, the legislation would require the FCC to establish a Telecommunications Workforce Development Advisory Council. The Council would advise the FCC and provide recommendations regarding the needs of the telecom workforce to expand broadband access, ways to encourage participation in industry-led workforce development programs, and ways to improve workforce development within the industry. The Council would be led by at least one representative from the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a state agency, a local agency, a tribal agency, the communications industry, and a minority institution.

“A strong and dependable workforce is critical to keeping our nation’s telecommunications industry a global leader,” said Gardner. “The TOWER Act would ensure the FCC remains focused on ways to expand and strengthen the telecommunications workforce and involve a variety of stakeholders in that process.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.