This morning the House Industrial Education and Economic Development Committee referred HF 3605 to Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee. This bill looked at two tools that will help broadband providers reach more households: Line Extension and Easements.
This bill was heard in a Senate Committee earlier this month. The quick take is that the bill takes money from the Border to Border grant program to award to homeowner projects rather than communitywide projects. The bill asks that the Office of Broadband create a portal where people who feel underserved can submit a request for better service; every 6 months those addresses will be made available to broadband providers who can bid (up to $25,000) to extend their connections to the homes. (I have written about the bill in previous posts.)
The railroads had concerns about the easement portion of the bill in the Senate. That concern seems to have dissipated. (The cooperatives received the ability to use easements last year; the railroads seemed to not notice that bill.)
The big question from Representatives is how long it might take to get broadband to everyone spurred by the fact that this bill sets a cap of $5 million per year for the first three years of the program. The cap would be lifted after the third year. The answer given was it could take a few years.