Committee Approves Bill Incentivizing Broadband Expansion


The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved a committee substitute Friday to Senate Bill 16, a bill that would provide up to one million dollars in tax credits to any company delivering broadband service to certain hard-to-reach rural areas.

Though the substitute does not go into specific detail about what defines an “underserviced” area, Senator Chris Walters, the committee’s chair, said it would come down the bandwidth speed of the homes that are being reached.

Walters is the lead-sponsor of another broadband bill, Senate Bill 315, which would provide the construction of statewide “middle-mile” fiber optic network. The middle mile is like a highway system of Internet fiber built across the state. Walters said both bills incentivize broadband providers to get to hard-to-reach areas.

“My bill builds an interstate system, Senate Bill 315,” Walters said. “This bill helps build off ramps off the interstate to hit the houses. So they really complement each other very, very well. Again, whenever we have more competition out in rural areas because of the interstate systems bill, more companies are going to be able to access the credits, get out to homes faster and really bring the state on-board. Light us up even faster. Together they complement each other very well. I’m hopeful for passage of both.”

The amended Senate Bill 16 was referred to the Committee on Finance, whose members will determine how to fund the bill.