Broadband: Financing Rural Broadband

Broadband Financing Rural Broadband SB 18-002 Neutral H. Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources Sens. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, and Don Coram, R-Montrose; Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, and Rep. KC Becker, D-Boulder Kevin Bommer At its core, the bill is supposed to repurpose the High Cost Support Mechanism (HCSM) from mainly subsidizing the normal business of incumbent providers to providing a source of grant revenue to the Broadband Deployment Board. In 2014, there was a lot of hoopla from the industry about how deregulation was going to pave the way for massive investment in rural broadband, which was followed by little to no investment and lawsuits. SB 2 emerged from the Senate with language untethers the minimum speed requirements of a broadband network from the FCC’s requirements (currently 25 Mbps download speed and 3 Mbps up), allowing the 10Mbps down/1Mbps up to be built with grant dollars. CML explores the problems this creates in a recent CML Legislative Matters blog. While it is important to see the HCSM dollars flow to the Broadband Deployment Board, CML is concerned about grants subsidizing new broadband at 2011 speeds. The League will continue to work with the sponsors to try to make the bill as much for the communities where broadband might be expanded as it does the companies that are awarded grants to do it.