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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 5, 2020 10:47 AM
From: Representative Clint Owlett
To: All House members
Subject: Expanding Broadband Access with Existing Infrastructure
Soon I will introduce legislation to help expand broadband infrastructure in rural parts of the Commonwealth.

There is a significant lack of access to high-speed internet in rural Pennsylvania. This puts rural residents at a disadvantage when it comes to economic and educational opportunities. In order to better serve their consumers, some rural electric cooperatives have begun the process of addressing this issue by providing broadband services themselves. However, outdated easement agreements are slowing the progress of rural broadband deployment.

Utilities, such as electric cooperatives, enter into easement agreements with property owners to facilitate the placement of necessary infrastructure such as poles and electric lines on property throughout the Commonwealth. Unfortunately, some easements held by electric cooperatives do not specifically permit them to attach fiber lines to those poles to provide broadband, even though their members want this service. The result is that cooperatives that want to provide these services must go to each property owner individually to change these outdated agreements, a cost-prohibitive process. This is a common issue nationwide that many states have already passed legislation to change.

My legislation will allow cooperatives to use their existing infrastructure to deploy fiber lines for broadband while protecting property owners. This legislation will also open the door for other providers to develop broadband infrastructure as well. Allowing electric cooperatives to use their existing infrastructure to help expand broadband access to rural Pennsylvania is a common-sense approach to help spur greater access to broadband in the Commonwealth.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as HB2438