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                                                      Calendar No. 253
                                                       
114th Congress    }                                          {   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session       }                                          {  114-412

======================================================================



 
     SMALL BUSINESS BROADBAND AND EMERGING INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY 
                            ENHANCEMENT ACT

                                _______
                                

               December 20, 2016.--Ordered to be printed

   Filed, under authority of the order of the Senate of December 10 
                  (legislative day, December 9), 2016

                                _______
                                

Mr. Vitter, from the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 2116]

    The Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 2116) to improve certain 
programs of the Small Business Administration to better assist 
small business customers in accessing broadband technology, and 
for other purposes, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon with an amendment and recommends that the 
bill, as amended, do pass.

                            I. INTRODUCTION

    The Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information 
Technology Enhancement Act (S. 2116) was introduced by Jeanne 
Shaheen, for herself, and Chairman David Vitter on October 1, 
2015. The bill provides for training at the SBA to assist small 
businesses with the goal of providing resources and information 
for improved small business access to broadband. During the 
markup of the bill, the bill was approved unanimously by voice 
vote.

              II. HISTORY (PURPOSE & NEED FOR LEGISLATION)

    In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 
released the National Broadband Plan to improve Internet access 
in the United States. The report included a strategy for 
maximizing the use of high-speed Internet (``broadband'') for 
entrepreneurial activity and job growth. This plan included 
sections for launching a private-public partnership that helps 
small businesses use broadband technology. Parts of this report 
are included in the Findings section of the bill, including the 
clause that the SBA should hone its expertise in broadband and 
advanced IT technology to ensure that small businesses benefit 
from these services. The report suggested that these services 
be disseminated through the SBA's counseling programs and 
resource partners. Since the release of the National Broadband 
Plan, certain areas of the United States continue to have 
patchwork access to high-speed Internet, despite how necessary 
it is in the modern economy.
    On March 23, 2015, President Obama signed the Presidential 
Memorandum, ``Expanding Broadband Deployment and Adoption by 
Addressing Regulatory Barriers and Encouraging Investment and 
Training.'' This memorandum created the Broadband Opportunity 
Council, which is tasked with producing ``specific 
recommendations to increase broadband deployment, competition 
and adoption through executive actions within the scope of 
existing Agency programs, missions and budgets.''
    On August 20, 2015, the Broadband Opportunity Council 
produced a report with a series of recommendations for how 
federal agencies should meet those objections. One 
recommendation cited the need for additional training and 
recommended that the SBA ``develop and deploy new digital 
empowerment training for small businesses'' by creating new 
modules that help businesses utility broadband-based 
applications more effectively. These modules are also meant to 
improve operations and ultimately strengthen market sales.

                      III. HEARINGS & ROUNDTABLES

    In the 110th Congress, the Senate Committee on Small 
Business and Entrepreneurship held a hearing on September 26, 
2007 entitled, ``Improving Internet Access to Help Small 
Business Compete in the Global Economy.'' This hearing focused 
on obstacles to the purchase of broadband internet services 
facing small businesses. The hearing drew attention to the 
detrimental effects a lack of broadband access can have on 
small businesses. Senators heard testimony from members of the 
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), non-profit scholars 
and software executives. The hearing also examined legislation 
that would promote competition in the rural broadband market.
    In the 111th Congress, the Senate Committee on Small 
Business and Entrepreneurship held a hearing on April 27, 2010 
entitled, ``Connecting Main Street to the World: Federal 
Efforts to Expand Small Business Internet Access.'' This 
hearing discussed the National Broadband Plan, the broadband 
funding contained within the American Recovery and Reinvestment 
Act (ARRA) and the need for broadband expansion into rural 
areas. The Senators heard from Federal Communications 
Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski, Administrator 
Larry Strickling from the National Telecommunications and 
Information Administration (NTIA), representatives from the 
Small Business Administration and the Department of Agriculture 
and various organizations representing broadcasters and 
wireless providers. Over the course of this hearing, witness 
testimony suggested that the SBA appoint a coordinator to 
handle business broadband and information technology issues. 
The hearing also focused on ways to increase minority access to 
broadband and examine the training on broadband services 
available to small business owners.
    On May 13, 2010, the Senate Committee on Small Business and 
Entrepreneurship held a roundtable entitled, ``Connecting Main 
Street to the World: Small Business Perspectives on Internet 
Access.'' The discussion included broadband policy experts, 
internet providers and a representative of the Association of 
Small Business Development Centers. The roundtable covered many 
of the same issues as the April 10th hearing, from the 
perspective of the small business consumer of broadband 
services. Dialogue focused on how entrepreneurs' use of 
Internet access to run their businesses has increased over 
time, whether competitive options exist to make broadband rates 
affordable, what broadband speeds and bundles are needed, how 
business owners fund broadband access and the availability of 
educational resources on broadband are offered by providers. 
The roundtable also addressed challenges to broadband access 
for businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged 
groups.

                        IV. DESCRIPTION OF BILL

    The Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information 
Technology Enhancement Act addresses the need for access to 
broadband by U.S. small businesses, an issue that has been 
explored by the Senate Committee on Small Business and 
Entrepreneurship for many years. The Act also enables these 
businesses to utilize broadband resources more effectively. S. 
2116 builds on data amassed in the 2010 National Broadband Plan 
and 2015 Broadband Opportunity Council Report, two 
comprehensive studies on national broadband. References to 
these reports are included to provide explanation and 
perspective for the Act's call for broadband expansion and the 
need for these resources to be provided through SBA's training 
and counseling programs. The Small Business Broadband and 
Emerging Information Technology Enhancement Act also directs an 
existing SBA senior staff member to coordinate programs 
relating to broadband policies and directs the agency in 
providing training for the staff to assist small businesses 
adapting to technological changes. The Act directs the SBA's 
Chief Counsel for Advocacy to evaluate current data and the 
impact of broadband speed and price on small businesses. The 
Small Business Broadband and Emerging Information Technology 
Act provides clear direction for the Small Business 
Administration to bring much needed broadband and information 
technology training within reach of America's small business 
community.

                           V. COMMITTEE VOTE

    In compliance with rule XXVI(7)(b) of the Standing Rules of 
the Senate, the following vote was recorded on October 7, 2015.
    A motion to adopt the Small Business Broadband and Emerging 
Information Technology Enhancement Act, a bill to improve 
certain programs of the Small Business Administration to better 
assist small business customers in accessing broadband 
technology, and for other purposes, was approved unanimously by 
voice vote with the following Senators present: Vitter, Scott, 
Fischer, Gardner, Ernst, Enzi, Shaheen, Cantwell, Cardin, 
Booker, Hirono and Peters.

                           VI. COST ESTIMATE

    In compliance with rule XXVI(11)(a)(1) of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, the Committee estimates the cost of the 
legislation will be equal to the amounts discussed in the 
following letter from the Congressional Budget Office:

                                                   October 7, 2015.
    S. 2116 would direct the Small Business Administration 
(SBA) to broaden its assistance to small businesses by 
providing information and counseling on adopting and using 
broadband and other information technologies. Among other 
things, S. 2116 would direct the agency to expand the duties of 
a senior staff member to coordinate broadband programs and 
activities of SBA and other agencies that work on broadband 
policy, provide training to SBA staff on ways to assist small 
businesses to adopt and use those technologies, and broaden the 
role of small business development centers to provide small 
businesses with information about broadband technologies. Based 
on information from SBA, CBO estimates that implementing S. 
2116 would cost less than $500,000 over the 2016-2020 period; 
any such spending would be subject to the availability of 
appropriated funds. Enacting S. 2116 would not affect direct 
spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do 
not apply. CBO estimates that enacting S. 2116 would not 
increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of 
the next four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2026.
    S. 2116 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Susan Willie. 
The estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                  VII. EVALUATION OF REGULATORY IMPACT

    In compliance with rule XXVI(11)(b) of the Standing Rules 
of the Senate, it is the opinion of the Committee that no 
significant additional regulatory impact will be incurred in 
carrying out the provisions of this legislation. There will be 
no additional impact on the personal privacy of companies or 
individuals who utilize the services provided.

                   VIII. SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

Section 1. Short title

    This section provides the title of this Act (``Small 
Business Broadband and Emerging Information Technology 
Enhancement Act of 2015'').

Section 2. Findings

    This section references reports attesting to the nationwide 
need for broadband expansion, including the 2010 National 
Broadband Plan, the 2015 Broadband Opportunity Council Report, 
and data on applied broadband usage.
    Under the 2010 National Broadband Plan, the Small Business 
Association (SBA) should ensure that its programs maintain 
broadband expertise, tools and training courses needed to serve 
small businesses. Congress was advised to consider ways to 
leverage existing assistance provided through entrepreneurial 
development programs and focus training on advanced IT and 
broadband applications. Congress should also consider ways to 
support technology training among women entrepreneurs through 
women's business centers. Training programs should include 
entry-level broadband 101 courses to provide small businesses 
with an introduction to how to capitalize on broadband 
connectivity as well as more advanced information technology 
applications. Small and medium enterprise information 
technology training should include resources for non-IT staff, 
such as how to use e-commerce tools for sales, streamline 
finance with online records and leverage knowledge management 
across an organization.
    The 2015 Broadband Opportunity Council Report focuses on 
the modernization of federal programs. Modernization allows for 
greater civic participation, provides tools for open government 
and streamlines the government process. This section encourages 
changes in how we access educational resources, collaborate in 
the educational process, conduct research and continue to learn 
anytime, anyplace and at any pace. It also facilitates new 
business models, improves business efficiencies, drives job 
creation and connects manufacturers and store-fronts to clients 
and partners worldwide.
    This section also highlights how broadband access has been 
applied to create new business models in the marketplace. Data 
has shown that more than three-quarters of the highest-grossing 
mobile software applications (``apps'') are produced by 
startups and small companies. Seventy-eight percent of the 
leading app companies are located in U.S. regions outside of 
Silicon Valley. The emergence of the app industry over the past 
eight years has grown to a $120 billion-dollar economy fueled 
by small businesses.

Section 3. Broadband and Emerging Information Technology Coordinator

    Subsection 3(a)--This section defines ``Associate 
Administrator'' as Associate Administrator for the Office of 
Investment and Innovation and ``Broadband and Emerging 
Information Technology Coordinator'' as an SBA employee 
designated to carry out broadband and emerging information 
technology coordination responsibilities of the Small Business 
Administration.
    Subsection 3(b)--The Associate Administrator shall 
designate a senior employee from the Office of Investment and 
Innovation to serve as the Broadband and Emerging Information 
Technology Coordinator. The Coordinator reports to the 
Associate Administrator, and works in coordination with the 
Chief Information Officer, Chief Technology Officer, Head of 
Office of Technology and any other administrator determined 
appropriate by the Associate Administrator. The Coordinator's 
qualifications require experience developing and implementing 
telecommunications policy.
    The position would be responsible for coordinating programs 
that assist small business concerns related to broadband and 
other emerging information technology. The position would also 
serve as primary SBA liaison to other federal agencies related 
to these policy areas and would identify best practices 
relating to broadband and emerging IT that may benefit small 
business concerns.
    The Coordinator would also identify and catalog tools and 
training available through the resource partners that assist 
small businesses.
    The section also states that the Coordinator's hours shall 
not consist of more than 20 percent travel outside of the 
United States to perform official duties.
    Subsection 3(c). Broadband and Emerging Information 
Technology Training and Authorization of Appropriations--The 
Associate Administrator shall provide training at SBA that 
familiarizes employees with broadband and other emerging 
information technology and includes instruction on counseling 
small business concerns and federal government programs related 
to these areas. Training also ensures that employees fully 
utilize tools and training cataloged and identified by SBA's 
resource partners.
    No specific appropriation amount is made for this bill, and 
this section instead authorizes that which is necessary to 
carry out the section.
    Subsection 3(d). Reports--This section requires that, every 
other year, the Coordinator submit to the House Small Business 
Committee and Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship 
Committee a report on SBA's programs and activities relating to 
broadband and other emerging information technology. This 
requirement would commence not later than 2 years after the 
date on which the Associate Administrator makes the first 
designation of the position and for every two years thereafter.
    This section requires the Chief Counsel for Advocacy to 
conduct a study evaluating the impact of broadband speed and 
price on small business concerns. The SBA Office of Advocacy's 
report will be released not later than 3 years after the date 
of the enactment of this Act. The Chief Counsel for Advocacy 
shall submit the results to the Senate's Committee on Commerce, 
Science and Transportation and Committee on Small Business and 
Entrepreneurship and the House of Representatives' Committee on 
Energy and Commerce and Committee on Small Business. The report 
shall include a survey of broadband speeds available to small 
businesses, associated costs, types of technology used and 
policy recommendations for improving small business access to 
broadband services.

Section 4. Entrepreneurial development

    This section amends the problem-solving assistance 
provisions of the small business development center program to 
include improving competitiveness and productivity of small 
business concerns by assisting entrepreneurs in accessing 
broadband and emerging information technology.