Nesbitt introduces legislation to improve broadband access

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Aric Nesbitt on Tuesday introduced legislation that seeks to improve access to reliable broadband internet by increasing incentives for expanding broadband infrastructure in underserved and unserved areas.

“For years, many people simply used the internet to play games, chat with friends and keep in touch with family,” said Nesbitt, R-Lawton. “Now, people do their shopping, banking and many other everyday activities online and many jobs and educational opportunities are becoming increasingly mobile as well. Reliable access to the internet is becoming a requirement.”

Senate Bill 46 would promote investment in broadband equipment with the hope of bringing more high-speed internet infrastructure and service to underserved and rural areas of the state. The legislation aims to prompt investors to upgrade their equipment and expand services to areas that currently cannot receive high-speed internet.

Nesbitt also points to the ongoing pandemic and transition away from in-person interaction as businesses have implemented social distancing measures.

“Moving into 2021, especially during the ongoing pandemic, where most things are being done remotely, people need to have access to reliable internet,” he said. “We saw this with the state’s unemployment insurance agency and the complete inability to communicate with someone at the agency outside of the online portal.”

Nesbitt introduced a similar bill shortly after taking office in 2019, but many priorities from the previous Legislature remained uncompleted due to COVID-19. Nesbitt said he remains committed to improving internet access for his district and other rural parts of the state.

“Lowering government-imposed costs and barriers to expansion and incentivizing private sector investment will improve access to high-speed internet throughout Michigan,” Nesbitt said.

The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Technology for further consideration.

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