Senate approves bill that would help pave the way for high-speed internet to rural and low-income communities
NEW JERSEY – Bipartisan legislation approved Thursday by the Senate would help pave the way for high-speed broadband internet access to forgotten areas across the state.
Senator Steve Oroho and Senator Troy Singleton sponsor the bill, S-2864, which would establish the Broadband Access Study Commission to evaluate the feasibility of establishing community networks to deliver state-of-the-art internet speeds to the public.
“Some rural and low-income areas have been ignored by internet providers who are reluctant to invest in the necessary infrastructure,” Oroho (R-24) said. “High-speed internet is a necessity in our world today, but there are too many homes and communities that lack the broadband service many of us take for granted. The commission created by this bill would consider an alternative to bring the digital evolution to these residents.”
The importance of reliable broadband internet has been highlighted by the pandemic as students attend classes online, employees are working from home, and virtual meetings on Zoom and other conferencing formats have become commonplace.
“In one of the richest, most modernized countries in the world, it is shameful that so many communities across New Jersey, and throughout our nation, do not have broadband access to the internet,” Singleton (D-Burlington) said. “For more than 20 years, the internet has been integral to our lives, even more so now when the majority of us are working, learning and socializing remotely. Building community broadband is a necessary step to keep our residents connected to their jobs, schools, family and friends, and this study commission will determine the feasibility of putting that infrastructure in place.”
The commission created by the legislation would consider the logistics of developing community broadband networks and report on its findings to the Governor and the Legislature within a year of the first meeting.
“This may be our best option to bring state-of-the-art internet service to households that have thus far missed out on this game-changing technology,” Oroho said. “The commission would complete a comprehensive study of the success and failures of similar networks around the country, the costs to construct and maintain networks, and the charges subscribers would pay for monthly access.”