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Bob Larson Rural Broadband Bill Pt 2
by Bob Larson, click here for bio

Program: Washington State Farm Bureau Report
Date: May 22, 2019

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I'm Bob Larson. A bill has been signed into law that should help promote the expansion of broadband connectivity to rural areas across the state with a $21-million program and new office to oversee it.

Senator Doug Ericksen says while it's a move in the right direction, the legislation leaves out some rather obvious matters ...

ERICKSEN ... "I also don't understand why we left two sources of funding on the table today. One is private capital, which could be brought in through tax incentives. If we have a billion-dollar problem and we have a 25 or 20-million-dollar capital budget outlay, we don't get very close to addressing the issue that we have in Washington state."

But, he says the overall cost of broadband buildout varies so it's hard to get a good number ...

ERICKSEN ... "But, a billion is an easy number to talk about in terms of a goal to get to. So, if I have a government-run program that says we're going to do $20-million, but I've got a billion-dollar issue we have to address, we've got to find different ways to address it."

And, Ericksen says there is still time for that ...

ERICKSEN ... "Hopefully, long term, we can look at tax incentives, get the private sector engaged for unserved areas, hopefully we can take another look at finding ways to allow the PUDS to use the resources that are currently coming into their areas due to their power supply, and look at ways to make it more cost-effective to put broadband out there by dealing with the full attachment issue at some time in the future. So, it's not a bad piece of legislation. I'll vote for it. I don't think it's quite the cure-all, but there are definitely things that we can add on to this so, hopefully later on, it will make it more effective for serving more people in Washington state."

The new law establishes a goal of providing high-speed broadband access to all Washington residents and businesses by 2024.

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