State Senator Robert Nichols filed a bill to help increase access to broadband internet for rural areas in Texas, known as Senate Bill 14, reported KLTV-TV.
“I’m getting a lot of support because all of the other plans for broadband that have been proposed use subsidies,” said Nichols. “This one asks the state for nothing, it asks the federal government for nothing.”
Nichols’ proposed plan would be done through the help of Texas electric cooperatives. According to the bill, the plan is to use existing electricity infrastructure — “more than 300,000 miles of distribution lines” — to deploy broadband to the members they serve and meet their need for high-speed internet.
“They already have the authority to do broadband…all the electric co-ops have it,” said Nichols. “Big areas of rural are not served by anybody for high-speed internet. [This bill] allows them to use those poles and easements for broadband; it’s real simple.”
If SB 14 passes, it will be optional, not mandatory, for co-ops to offer broadband to its members. Nichols said each co-op would lay out a presentation, similar to a board meeting or stockholders meeting, and the co-op’s members have the opportunity to approve or deny the project.
The bill is still in its early stages; Nichols said it has been filed and referred to the Business and Commerce Committee.
March 15, 2019