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Nebraska Lawmakers Consider Speeding Up Rural Broadband Access

LINCOLN- Nebraska lawmakers are scheduled to hear a bill next week that’s designed to ramp up access to broadband internet in parts of the state still stuck at dial-up speeds.

Johnathan Hladik with the Center for Rural Affairs says broadband is an economic-development tool for small businesses in rural communities, one of the state’s key job creators, and it’s becoming increasingly important for farmers…

Supporters say the measure would put Nebraska residents in the driver’s seat to identify and report broadband gaps to the Public Service Commission. The crowd-sourced data then would be leveraged to bring federal dollars back to the state to connect areas not served by providers. Some lawmakers have raised concerns about the upfront costs of such a program, but Hladik says every dollar invested would produce big returns in both federal funding and increased economic activity.

The legislation includes recommendations by the state’s Rural Broadband Task Force, which identified strategies for filling broadband gaps last spring and summer. Hladik says the measure would make Nebraska more competitive with states that already have a big head start when it comes to broadband…

The Transportation and Telecommunications Committee is set to hear LB 996 next Monday. A separate bill, LB 992, also incorporates recommendations by the broadband task force, and is scheduled to be heard by the same committee on Monday as well.

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