The Broadband Deployment Act, or HB 1239, goes into effect in Florida and aims to bring broadband to more families, students, farmers, and businesses in the Sunshine State’s rural areas. The law addresses long-standing issues surrounding broadband providers’ access to utility poles and their ability to attach new broadband infrastructure to these poles, including by:
- Establishing a more equitable division of costs for replacing utility pole infrastructure.
- Providing a temporary reduction in the annual rate paid by broadband providers to attach their networks to poles owned by municipal electric companies in unserved areas.
- Establishing a supplemental funding mechanism for current and future broadband projects.
- Directing the Florida Office of Broadband to formulate a strategic plan to increase broadband service in unserved areas.
These changes will help connect Floridians more swiftly in rural and hard-to-reach areas of the state. And while Florida has service available to about 97 percent of its residents, more work must be done to cover those last few percentages of homes and businesses still without adequate service.
Connect the Future Florida applauds Governor Ron DeSantis, State Representative Josie Tomkow, and State Senator Danny Burgess for their leadership in helping to close the digital divide.
But the work doesn’t end here. To achieve high-speed broadband access availability for all Floridians, especially in rural communities, our elected leaders must finish the job by advancing additional reforms aimed at speeding access to pole infrastructure throughout all Florida communities, regardless of who owns the rural utility poles.
Universal broadband access is within reach for Florida, but immediate action is needed to ensure taxpayers get the most from their investment, to keep Florida competitive, and to attract the continued investment necessary to fully close the digital divide.
Connect the Future is hoping to build on the positive momentum of HB 1239 and remains committed to working with policymakers to ensure every Floridian has access to reliable broadband connectivity in an increasingly digital age. They want to ensure all Florida families will finally have and benefit from the 21st-century tools that unlock new jobs, better educational outcomes, and increased access to healthcare, along with the other modern internet applications most Americans take for granted.