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Washington Rural Broadband Bill Becomes Law

The newly signed legislation grants telecommunications authority to port districts, a move officials hope will widen the reach of Internet in rural parts of the state.

Richard Byrd, Columbia Basin Herald / March 29, 2018

(TNS) — OLYMPIA, Wa. — It’s been a long time coming for those who live in Washington’s rural areas to have access to broadband, but now thanks to 9th District Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, the former pipe dream of broadband statewide is becoming a reality.

House Bill 2664, which aids in the creation of critical infrastructure that is needed to bring broadband access to rural areas around the state, was recently signed by Gov. Jay Inslee. The bill gives telecommunications authority to all port districts in the state.

“It has been an uphill battle, but in the end tenacity won out,” Dye said. “This statute was brought to me by some brilliant people who see immense possibility in rural Washington. I believe in their vision, and there is no doubt that high speed internet is a necessary part of the future. It should be available for anyone who wants it.”

The bill opens the door for the possibility of rural Washington residents to have access to high speed internet at a competitive price. The bill does away with the definition of “rural,” which in turn allows ports to construct fiber networks.

Ports are now allowed to build open access networks that are worth the price for telecom or internet service providers to move into areas that typically have not had those services in the past. As a result, according to Dye’s office, with providers being given an affordable option, as well as the ports absorbing the initial costs, an increased amount of people will be able to access the “global digital economy.”

“This is a game changer for residents and businesses that couldn’t convince any network to give them access,” Dye said. “The governor has signed the measure on the dotted line, and now it’s time to roll up our sleeves. We must begin completion of the last mile.”

The measure passed both the House and Senate in unanimous votes and will officially go into effect in June.

©2018 the Columbia Basin Herald, Wash. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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