NEW JERSEY – The Senate Thursday passed legislation sponsored by Senator Steve Oroho that would bring faster, more reliable internet service to rural areas of New Jersey.
Parts of the state with inferior broadband service, including portions of Sussex and Warren counties in Oroho’s legislative district, would benefit from the bill (S-1458) to bring state-of-the-art technology to communities currently underserved by cable providers.
“Too many neighborhoods in my district are hindered by slow internet speeds and it has taken a toll,” Oroho (R-24) said. “Most communities across New Jersey enjoy lightning-fast downloads, but in less populated rural towns, internet users remain stuck in the slow lane.”
Less than 20 percent of web surfers in Sussex receive speeds over 100mbps. In comparison, in nearby Bergen County, families connected by Fios’ fiber optics have performance 50 times the speed.
“Poor internet connectivity has an impact on the local economy and the quality of education in the schools,” Oroho said. “In 2020, businesses and families deserve access to adequate, efficient levels of internet service.”
Oroho’s bill would require the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) to offer loans to broadband telecom companies to expand coverage areas. The loans would be issued under an existing small business loan program already administered by the EDA.
“The EDA loans authorized by the legislation will help level the playing field for rural communities where people have had no choice but to manage with less,” Oroho said. “Communication technology has advanced at a dizzying pace, but the investment in infrastructure to deliver efficient service levels has been inadequate. Many of our residents are missing out on advancements that have become necessities for educational efficiency and successful commerce. This bill will encourage providers to deliver to rural neighborhoods the same speeds and convenience the majority of the state already depends on.”
The measure (S-1458) is part of a package of bills introduced by Oroho and Assemblymen Hal Wirths and Parker Space (all R-Sussex, Warren, Morris) to boost internet speeds and telecommunication quality in underserved areas.
Oroho also sponsors S-1414, which directs BPU to allow broadband providers to use poles belonging to public utilities, and SCR-70, urges the State Board of Agriculture and NJ Department of Agriculture to explore ways to bring broadband services to rural communities. Assemblymen Wirths and Space sponsor the Assembly bill counterparts.