California, Tennessee and W. Virginia Move Ahead on Broadband


Three states advanced broadband expansion efforts this week – a roundup is below:

Riverside County, California has released an RFP for a broadband expansion project that would cover an area nearly the size of New Jersey. According to the RFP, the county is looking for an “advanced broadband system” that will serve both municipalities and tribal lands within Riverside County. The deadline for proposals is August 15, 2017.

County officials want to see proposals for fiber-to-the-premises that can handle “virtually unlimited” upstream and downstream speeds. They are also willing to entertain a wireless access supplement to FTTP networks for areas that are less densely populated or face other geographical challenges when it comes to fiber deployment.

The full text of the RFP is available here.

In Tennesse, a rural broadband bill has advanced out of the Senate. The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Act, is part of Governor Haslam’s NextTennessee legislative initiative and proposes a three-year investment of up to $45 million to expand broadband into rural areas of the state. The $45 million will be offered as a combination of expansion grants and tax credits.

The bill does not allow municipal broadband networks that already exist in Tennessee to take part in the expandion project, however. Lawmakers in Tennessee have opted to limit support to municipal networks citing a preference for private providers.

Finally, in a surprise move, the Senate Government Organization Committee in West Virginia opted to undo several changes to a broadband expansion bill that Senators made at the behest of telecommunications companies. The changes came as members of the House voiced deep concerns about the Senate version of the bill. According to the Charleston Gazette Mail, the bill authorizes the creation of non-profit broadband access co-operatives to provide service in rural areas. Unsurprisingly, lobbyists for the telecommunications industry moved to limit the creation of those co-operatives. The industry also sought to remove a provision that would allow smaller internet providers to put their fiber on telephone poles.