Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders announced a plan Friday to spread broadband Internet to rural areas of the United States and break up large service providers.
Promising that every U.S. household will have affordable, high-speed Internet by the end of his first term in the White House, Sanders said the push is part of his overall vision to improve the domestic economy and decrease corporate power.
The plan is titled "High-Speed Internet for All."
"High-speed Internet service must be treated as the new electricity -- a public utility that everyone deserves as a basic human right," the plan states.
"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 and access to it should be a public good for all, not another price gouging profit machine for Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.
"Their greed must end."
Sanders' plan would provide $150 billion to help municipalities with the infrastructure needed to provide the expanded service, pre-empt state laws that limit provider competition, ensure that all public housing units have free Internet and expand rural support programs.
The Vermont senator said he would return Obama-era net neutrality rules that have been vacated under the Trump administration and aggressively use antitrust rules to break up large service providers in cable monopolies.
"Internet, telecom and cable monopolies exploit their dominant market power to gouge consumers and lobby government at all levels to keep out competition," the plan says. "And they don't provide service to anyone who can't afford it, or install it in areas where it won't make them as much money as their shareholders demand."
Democratic candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg have also released plans to expand rural Internet service. Former Vice President Joe Biden, a front-runner in the part's 2020 race, has pledged to spend $20 billion for a similar project.