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Governor signs Hinchey sponsored bill to expand rural broadband service

Jan 12, 2022 6:00 am

MidHudson News is reporting Gov. Kathy Hochul has signed a bill into law designed to help bridge the digital divide in rural and underserved areas. The measure was sponsored by state Senator Michelle Hinchey of Saugerties and Assemblymember Carrie Woerner of Round Lake. The legislation will make it easier and more affordable for broadband providers to install internet service on utility poles by requiring a fair distribution of installation costs between service providers and utility corporations and streamlining the contract process for broadband expansion projects. When broadband providers try to install new internet service lines on utility poles they are often charged with exorbitant costs, including requests to fund replacing the entire pole, which can increase project costs several times higher than budgeted. This results in significant delays, and discourages providers from expanding coverage in rural communities. The new legislation clarifies that pole owners currently collecting a fee from ratepayers for utility pole replacements cannot shift the cost burden to broadband service providers. They instead must divide the expenditure in a fair and equitable manner. The measure also simplifies pole contracting for providers and municipalities by placing all utility poles in a given city, town, or village under one contract to create a more efficient system for providers to expand broadband service. Regulations previously required broadband providers to obtain contracts for each utility pole they intended to use. Read the full story at MidHudsonNews [dot] com.