CSG Midwest
In recent years, state government has taken a more active role in helping provide citizens with greater access to reliable broadband Internet. By using funding or incentives to encourage providers to expand broadband into underserved areas, policymakers hope to address equity issues involving access, as well as the role that access plays in terms of improved education, economic development and even public safety.

The smartphone has become an American staple in recent years. Need to know the time? The once required wristwatch has been replaced by the smartphone. Drawing a sudden blank on someone’s name or new job post? A quick check of a social media app can save one from embarrassment at a moment’s notice. More importantly, wireless phones are proving to be a critical tool in expanding access to high-speed Internet service to Americans in rural communities. But the expanded reach of smartphones and other wireless devices into millions of hands across the country has met a significant challenge. The U.S. is facing a wireless spectrum shortage.

This Act provides that neither the state nor a political subdivision may impose, assess, collect, or attempt to collect a tax on Internet access or the use of Internet access.

In practice, Dig Once policies attempt to lower the cost of broadband deployment by providing internet companies access to state- or city-owned rights of way. This is complemented by the mandatory installation of conduit for fiber-optic cable during road construction, or by allowing qualified broadband deployments to be installed during road construction projects.

Rural communities shouldn’t have to settle for slower Internet speeds. The effort to expand broadband Internet to public schools and libraries will draw its funding from the FCC’s E-Rate component of the Universal Service Fund. The Universal Service Fund established by the Communications Act of 1934, was originally created to provide telephony services to low-income and rural areas. With an update from the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Universal Service Fund now covers advanced telecommunications services, including Internet service.

CSG Midwest
Iowa and Indiana are moving ahead with a mix of new programs and tax policies designed to expand broadband development in the state’s rural areas. In Iowa, Gov. Terry Branstad made his “Connect Every Acre” proposal a top priority this past legislative session. With passage of HF 655, the state is establishing a grant program for service providers that install broadband in areas that connect farms, schools and communities.

According to NetIndex, which tracks key metrics related to the Internet, the United States is ranked 24th in terms of average internet speed. However, there is great variation among the states. Some have average download rates similar to the top 10 countries, but others’ rates are comparable to those around number 60.

Although many of the Internet’s technological underpinnings were invented in the United States, the U.S. continues to lag behind other developed countries in terms of broadband adoption and connection speeds. Cloud services provider Akamai Technologies ranks the U.S. 19th in average connection speed and 23rd in broadband adoption based on the Federal Communication Commission’s previous definition of broadband as 4 megabits per second.

Residents of Chattanooga, Tenn., have access to Internet speeds of one gigabit per second—more than 50 times faster than the rest of the country, leading it to be nicknamed “Gig City.” If Chattanooga were a country, it would be tied for the fastest Internet connection in the world with Hong Kong. The rest of America comes in at 26th, behind Singapore, Romania, Japan and Sweden. Residents of surrounding areas are envious because the service, which is provided by the city’s public utility company, is prohibited by state law from expanding beyond city lines. Chattanooga is one of several cities—including Lafayette, La., and Wilson, N.C.—that has built its own municipal high-speed broadband networks. These cities have been cited as success stories among local governments, taking action to provide faster Internet speeds for residents and to encourage economic development.

This act requires a provider of wireless telecommunications to provide call location information concerning the telecommunications device of a user to a law enforcement agency in certain circumstances; requires a provider of wireless telecommunications to submit its emergency contact information to the Department of Public Safety; requires the Department to maintain a database of such emergency contact information; authorizes the Department to adopt regulations; and provides other matters properly relating thereto.

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