New Jersey State Senator Doug Steinhardt is sponsoring legislation that would help support the expansion of broadband internet services in underserved rural communities.
“Rural communities are often an afterthought for the big telecom companies, leaving homeowners and businesses with few options for broadband service and slower speeds,” said Steinhardt (R-23). “When so much of modern life is dependent on high-speed internet, we need to be proactive in ensuring that our communities have access to these critical services. The new grant and loan programs that I’m sponsoring will support the expansion of rural broadband services in small communities that are often overlooked.”
Steinhardt has introduced legislation, S-3730, that establishes the “Rural Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program” within the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) for the purpose of providing grants to qualified applicants for the expansion and improvement of broadband telecommunications infrastructure and the provision of broadband telecommunications service in rural areas of the state.
The bill creates the “Rural Broadband Infrastructure Grant Fund” to support the program and appropriates $2.5 million in federal funds to the fund.
Steinhardt also joined as co-sponsor of legislation, S-582, that expands the EDA small business loan program to include certain broadband telecommunications service providers.
This bill requires the EDA, in consultation with the Board of Public Utilities (BPU), to offer loans to broadband telecommunications service providers providing broadband telecommunications service to rural areas under an existing small business loan program administered by the EDA.
“Many of the same communities that benefitted from rural electrification efforts a century ago will benefit from our focus on expanding rural broadband today,” added Steinhardt. “For many people, access to broadband will open up a world of educational and work opportunities that they otherwise wouldn’t have.”