Broadband expansion bill headed to House floor

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SANTA FE, N.M.- A bill aimed at expanding broadband internet access in New Mexico is heading to the house floor.

The pandemic has highlighted connectivity challenges across the state.

“Before, students who didn’t have access couldn’t do extra things, couldn’t do research that students who had access were able to do. Now they can’t do basic education because it’s virtually being provided,” said state Rep. Natalie Figueroa.

She is sponsoring Bill 10, along with other Democrats.

It would create a new Office of Broadband within the state’s Department of Information Technology.

The office would oversee a central plan to expand broadband statewide.

“House Bill 10 is an attempt to pull all the different broadband activities in the state happening under one roof, under the department of information technology and create a broadband division and then charge them and make them accountable to get broadband built out across the state where we don’t have access,” said Figueroa.

HB 10 passed its final House committee Monday, and is now headed to the House floor for a vote.

“We have people all across the state who don’t have internet access, 20% right now, and if you go out to rural areas it jumps to almost 40%. So four out of 10 people don’t have internet access and that is not acceptable in our rural areas,” said Figueroa.