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Bob Larson Rural Broadband Bill Pt 1
by Bob Larson, click here for bio

Program: Washington State Farm Bureau Report
Date: May 21, 2019

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I’m Bob Larson. Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed into law legislation that addresses expansion of high-speed internet service to rural areas across the state.

Senate Bill 5511 launches a $21 million program to promote rural broadband development, and creates a Statewide Broadband Office.

But, while Senator Doug Ericksen believes rural broadband is desperately needed, he says the bill is not perfect …

ERICKSEN … “I support this legislation, not quite with the excitement of the other members on the floor today and because the legislation obviously doesn’t actually build anything in Washington state. That’s all subject to appropriation later on to put some money out there through the grant program, the loan program, in terms of what goes out.”

Ericksen says parts could have used better planning …

ERICKSEN … “I’ve never been a big fan of creating new offices in the bureaucracy to do this type of stuff. So, creating a broadband office in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but is it really necessary going forward?”

He says the end-game is great, but …

ERICKSEN … “I am frustrated on a couple of different things. If you want more broadband, you have to find a way to pay for it and you have to find a way to make it more cost-effective to build.”

And, Ericksen says there are still expense hurdles to clear …

ERICKSEN … “In rural areas of Washington state in particular, we have a thing called pole attachments. And the pole attachments from our PUDs are extremely expensive to be able to run broadband on those poles. And so, if we want more of something, make it less expensive, so we have to find a way to make the pole attachments more cost effective for people to be able to run this high-speed internet to the people who actually want it.”

Listen tomorrow for more on the rural broadband bill.

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