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New Nebraska bill plans to boost broadband connections in rural areas

Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 9:35 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) - One of Gov. Pete Ricketts’ priorities for 2021 is to expand broadband access to un-served and under-served areas in the state.

According to the state, more than 80,000 households lacked adequate internet speed, most of them in rural areas. LB 388 looks to bridge the cap in Nebraska.

The bill creates the “Nebraska Broadband Bridge Act” which provides $20 million in each of the next two years to increase broadband across Nebraska. That could help 30,000 households get better access to the internet.

That’s crucial now during the pandemic. It puts a spotlight on the digital divide in the state as more parents and students are working and learning from home.

Often times, spotty connectivity makes that task even harder

Ricketts says the money would help small towns in rural communities have the same access to the internet as the more urban areas.

The goal is to bring better connectivity to every part of the state and in turn, make it more economically stable.

“Folks, if we’re going to invest public tax dollars in creating infrastructure, we ought to invest in quality infrastructure. Infrastructure that is not going to get us to where we ought to have been before but looking forward to where we need to be. To allow students, businesses, healthcare providers to be able to operate in the 21st Century,” said Ricketts.

Last year, the state used CARES Act money to help more than 17,000 houses get broadband. Ricketts says it’s crucial to build off that momentum.

Ricketts, who testified in support of the bill, says this would move Nebraska closer to bringing broadband coverage to every corner of the state.

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