Nebraska State Senator Curt Friesen http://news.legislalture.ne.gov/dist34 has introduced legislature (LB994) to create the “Rural Broadband Study Task Force”. This legislature involving the Task Force would help develop enhanced broadband telecommunications service to unserved and underserved areas in rural Nebraska.
Membership on the task force would include the State Transportation and Telecommunications Committee Chairperson, a member of the Legislature appointed by the Executive Board, a member of the Nebraska Public Service Commission, Chairperson of the Nebraska Information Technology Commission, Director of the State Department of Economic Development, the Director of the State Department of Agriculture, and additional members to be appointed by the Governor.
Also, representatives from the state’s agribusiness, representatives from businesses operating in the state, and representatives from telecommunications, public power companies, and educational communities would advise and take part in task force meetings.
Specifically, the Task Force would:
- Determine how the average advertised subscription rates for download and upload speeds compare with neighboring states
- Determine whether the administration of the Nebraska Telecommunications Universal Service Fund is effective in bringing comparable and affordable broadband service to rural residents
- Review the feasibility of using alternative technologies to enable providers to expedite faster access, faster service, and more reliable broadband service in rural areas
- Recommend state policies to effectively leverage state Universal Service Fund dollars with federal support
- Provide recommendations to the governor and legislature as to the most effective and efficient ways to use federal broadband rural infrastructure funds.
LB994 would also authorize the Nebraska Public Service Commission to institute a reverse auction program that would award funding to broadband internet service providers. The objective would be to support high-speed internet infrastructure deployment projects in unserved or underserved areas.
Also, the Commission would be able to withhold funding from companies that have not adequately served such areas. Finally, LB994 would direct the Commission to establish a registry of locations within the state when the Commission receives complaints when wireless coverage is not provided
A final report of the Task Force’s findings would be delivered to the Legislature’s Executive Board no later than December 1, 2019. The annual report would be publicly available and could be used for future funding decisions.