Scofield’s Proposal to Expand Rural Broadband approved by the State Senate
February 5, 2018
Southern Torch (3287 articles)
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Scofield’s Proposal to Expand Rural Broadband approved by the State Senate

(“Broadband Network” | Wikimedia.org)

By Staff Reports

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – This afternoon the Alabama State Senate took a major step toward broadband expansion in rural Alabama by passing Senator Clay Scofield’s (R-Guntersville) Alabama Rural Broadband Act. Senate Bill 149 is a free-market approach to increasing private investment to expand high-speed internet access across the state.

Sen. Clay Scofield, SD9

Sen. Clay Scofield, who represents Alabama’s 9th Senate District.

“In the 1930s the infrastructure challenge was electricity, and in the 60s and 70s it was ensuring rural areas had clean drinking water. Expanding access to broadband internet is the infrastructure challenge of our day. We must ensure that all Alabamians have an opportunity to succeed in the digital economy,” Scofield said. “Currently, thousands of families and businesses in rural Alabama are without access to fast broadband. That’s unconscionable.”

SB149 provides a 10% investment tax credit and sales and use tax exemptions for companies that build qualified broadband telecommunications network facilities in underserved areas of Alabama. The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs and a legislative oversight committee are tasked with overseeing implementation of the legislation. All of the incentives will expire in five years, unless renewed by the state legislature.

“Students, families, and business owners in rural Alabama desperately need fast broadband internet,” Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper) said. “Senate Republicans are committed to making sure that all of Alabama thrives as our state economy continues to grow. I commend Sen. Scofield for his able leadership in moving this legislation forward.”

The World Bank commissioned a study in 2015 that showed a 10% increase in broadband penetration could increase economic growth by 1.2%. It also stated that doubling broadband speeds can add 0.3% to GDP growth.

“Seventy years ago, co-ops and private companies invested in bringing electricity to the country, improving life and creating jobs for millions. It’s my hope that this legislation will spur the same expansion with the internet to all those same households and businesses,” Scofield remarked.

Scofield’s bill now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives for consideration.

Southern Torch

Southern Torch

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