Legislation supported by state Rep. Sharon Negele (R-Attica) prioritizing broadband access for students, schools and rural clinics is now law.
Negele said rural communities throughout the state struggle with quality access to high-speed internet. Currently, the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program, which is available through the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, communities and providers expand reliable and affordable broadband service.
With this law, OCRA must make it a priority to deploy these grants to unserved areas most in need first.
“Where you live shouldn’t have an impact on your access to high-speed internet, but unfortunately for many rural communities, it does,” Negele said. “Prioritizing quality broadband access for unserved and underserved schools, students and hospital clinics will benefit those who need it most. We have learned over the last year just how important it is for everyone in our state to be connected, and this is a great step in the right direction.”
House Enrolled Act 1449 creates a reverse auction for students who can self-report a lack of educational broadband service through a portal on the OCRA website. Negele said the broadband company that can provide service to the student’s household for the lowest amount of money would be awarded the Next Level Connections grant.
A new program will also be created through the law to help schools and clinics cover the cost of obtaining better internet speeds and higher-quality connection.