Governor Jay Inslee has indicated that he is ready to sign bills that would allow municipal broadband delivery in the state of Washington, reports GeekWire.com. Restrictions currently in place limit direct to consumer broadband delivery, making Washington one of the growing number of states to favor municipal involvement.
“The truth is a majority of states already allow what this bill does,” said Representative Drew Hansen, the primary author of HB1336. In conjunction with SB5383, the bills would give legal authority to public utility districts, counties, towns, and port districts. These entities would then be empowered to offer retail broadband service to subscribers, much as private companies like Verizon and Comcast do.
As an impetus for supporting municipal broadband, Hansen pointed to examples of school children unable to access online resources during the pandemic. “We had rural health centers that lacked sufficient broadband to help patients,” he added.
With federal funds likely to assist broadband delivery efforts, Hansen said that the state bills have been worded in a way that would allow them to dovetail with federal outreach rather than contradict it. While some legislators in Washington state had misgivings about the exact wording, the factions are united in wanting to see their residents connected. “I just didn’t like the way the bill was written,” said Representative Alex Ybarra, “But I agree that something has to be done.”
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