Published by Alabama Political Reporter on May 6, 2019
By Brandon Moseley
The Alabama House of Representatives passed legislation last week to try to make broadband more available to Alabamians, particularly rural Alabamians who few high-speed internet options.
House Bill 400 is sponsored by state Representative Randall Shedd, R-Cullman.
Shedd said, “We have all seen the map with whole counties in red with declining populations. Young people will not stay where they are not connected to the worldwide web, they just won’t. Realtors says that the first question homebuyers ask not is about the internet access.”
Shedd’s bill would is titled the Telecommunications, Broadband Using Electric Easement Accessibility Act.
Shedd said that 850,000 Alabamians do not have access to broadband at their homes.
Shedd said that if the government waits on the private sector to provide broadband to rural areas, it may never happen. Many rural Alabamians waited decades for electricity to be extended to their homes, and that only happened with rural electrification efforts.
A key issue in the debate was whether the act would apply only to Alabamians who are unserved, meaning that they have no access to any broadband or if it would also include the underserved, those Alabamians who have some sort of internet access available to them through the existing cable. Supporters of certain internet providers objected to the underserved being included in this.
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