NM lawmaker wants to help communities get broadband access | KOB 4

NM lawmaker wants to help communities get broadband access

Brittany Costello
Updated: August 12, 2020 06:20 PM
Created: August 12, 2020 05:35 PM

 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Internet connectivity is essential for business and schools to thrive in New Mexico.

"The reason this is so critical is communities in the United States, if you measure them, that have high speed broadband access are 50% more prosperous, and have 50% greater economic opportunities,"said Sen. Michael Padilla, chairman of the Science, Technology, and Telecommunications Committee.

Getting high-speed internet access to all of New Mexico has been a challenge.

Sen. Padilla said the state made major investments in 2017. Lawmakers rewrote telecommunication laws, allocated money for new technology from the universal service fund, and placed broadband in local infrastructure.
"So now, if you're a town out there in the middle of New Mexico, Columbus or Ranchos de Taos or Rama New Mexico, you can apply to, you can change your infrastructure tax and collect monies that way, with that first bill I was talking about. The second thing you can do is you can apply to the USF Fund and be granted anywhere from $500,000 to $2 million.
However, smaller communities and local leaders may not know how to access those opportunities.

Legislation Sen. Padilla is hoping to introduce in the 2021 legislative session would create an office of high-speed broadband access and expansion.
This is a huge one. It's going to be filled with a group of specialists and the specialists are going to work with the town managers, city manager, county manager, county commissioner, whoever is working to build broadband network for their community," he said.

Padilla believes the move will help with equality, accessibility and cost.
"We are the fifth largest state, land mass wise, in terms of size, we are the 46 in population," Padilla noted. "So if we put down a mile of broadband in downtown New York, the cost is probably 10% of what we would pay, and the reason it is there are more customers along that mile."

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