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Bill Summary Details

Broadband Internet Infrastructure (Watch)

CS/CS/HB 1239 (Tomkow) is the “Florida Broadband Deployment Act of 2021” and creates two programs intended to expand broadband service to those currently unserved. The bill requires municipal electric utilities, through July 1, 2024, to offer broadband providers a discounted rate of $1 per attachment per year for any new pole necessary to make broadband service available to an unserved or underserved consumer within the utility’s service territory. The bill provides the terms for these discounted attachments. The bill prohibits municipal electric utilities from raising their current pole attachment rates for broadband providers before July 31, 2022. The bill also provides safety and reliability standards for pole attachments and specifies each party’s responsibility for costs associated with replacement poles. The bill also creates a program within the Florida Office of Broadband to award grants, subject to appropriation, to applicants who seek to install or deploy infrastructure that expands broadband service to unserved areas. The bill specifies that political subdivisions are eligible for these grants only if other broadband internet service providers have not deployed service to an unserved area. The bill establishes a process by which an existing broadband provider may challenge a grant application on the grounds that the provider already offers or plans to offer service in the area at issue. The bill limits grant awards to 50% of the total cost of a project, but no more than $5 million per grant, and prohibits grant awards for projects that receive other federal funding. The bill also appropriates funds to develop geographic information system maps of broadband internet services availability consistent with standards from the Federal Communications Commission. The maps must be completed by June 30, 2022. CS/CS/HB 1239 passed the House (115-0) and the Senate (40-0). Effective July 1, 2021. (Hughes)