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Broadband bill aims to provide greater internet access

Posted at 6:25 PM, Mar 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-18 18:25:08-04

GADSDEN COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) — Instead of people without internet having to go to local libraries for access, one lawmaker is working to get faster, more affordable internet into rural and underprivileged communities.

Senator Loranne Ausley wrote the Broadband Internet Service Bill with a plan to map out the communities struggling the most to connect to internet, like some places in Gadsden County.

"With the accessibility on our back roads in our Shiloh, our Saint Johns, our Friendship communities, they have limited access and there is a great need," said Gadsden County Public Information Officer Leslie Steele.

Stacy Timmons lives in a similar area.

"Where we live is a little small community a small town, single light, and not a lot of providers come to that area," said Timmons.

She said dependable internet service could have a big impact on her livelihood.

"If I didn't have Internet at home, there's no way I would be able to do my job."

Ausley said her bill will help require accurate mapping of these areas and create a task force to work towards providing better transmission speeds. It would also work to better connect people with the Emergency Broadband Benefit, which offers $50 per month towards internet.

"A lot of people don't know about this," said Ausley. "And so what we included in the bill is some outreach from the Office of Broadband to make sure that eligible individuals know about this benefit because this will go along way towards addressing that affordability issue in our urban areas."

The bill advanced through the Senate with unanimous support this week.