The high cost support mechanism (HCSM) reimburses telecommunications service providers for some of the cost of providing telephone services to rural areas. The bill adds broadband service in unserved areas to the services that are reimbursable.
Section 1 of the bill defines terms including "broadband service","broadband network", and "unserved area". Section 2 of the bill adds the provision of broadband networks in unserved areas to the purposes served through financial assistance from the HCSM. Section 2 also requires the department of regulatory agencies (department) to include information about the implementation and administration of the HCSM in its presentation to legislative committees.
Section 3 adds universal access to broadband service to the list of goals stated in the current expression of state policy concerning telecommunications policy and planning.
Section 4 creates a broadband fund and a broadband deployment board to facilitate the funding of projects to deploy broadband service into unserved areas of the state through the award of grants from moneys allocated to the provision of broadband service from the HCSM.
Section 5 repeals the functions of the broadband deployment board regarding its administration of the broadband fund on September 1, 2024, subject to a sunset review by the department of regulatory agencies.