Rural Broadband



Illustration of a broadband lineInternet access is a necessity for the health, safety and economic development of Americans across the U.S. In fact, in a recent CTIA study, 67percent of consumers find reliable wireless service to be essential in their communities. This makes internet access the second biggest reason people move into a community, outranking schools, reasonable housing prices, good commuting times, nearby major airports, and ranking behind only hospitals.

As states move toward smart communities, companies increase the internet of things (IoT) connected devices, and the path toward automated vehicles becomes a reality, wireless demand will only increase. With the advent of 5G technology to help meet that demand, the underlying wireless infrastructure to support small cells and other innovative spectrum harnessing technologies is essential to meet community’s needs.

States have an ardent interest in ensuring internet access and increased broadband speeds for their states, and a growing concern that rural and small town Americans are not left behind. Closing the digital divide has been a topic states have addressed through a variety of initiatives, with the understanding broadband access and adoption is necessary to ensure the health, education and economic expansion of the state. 

2017 Introductions: At least 22 states have introduced more than 31 bills or resolutions related to rural broadband in 2017.

2017 Rural Broadband Legislation


S. 253
Status: Failed - adjourned.

Provide tax credits and incentives to provide for new qualified broadband network facilities.


HJR 14
Status: Pending

Joint resolution to urge the Federal Communications Commission to increase the Rural Health Care Program budget sufficiently to adjust for inflation, among other criteria.


H. 1174
Status: Enacted

Creates an exception for rural counties from the limitations on the establishment of a local improvement district to fund the construction of a telecommunications service improvement for advanced service. Provides that a rural county may establish a local improvement district only in an unserved area to contract with a telecommunications service provider or an advanced service provider to fund the construction of an advanced service improvement; and provides definitions.

S. 81
Status: Failed

“Concerning the use of high cost support mechanism funds for rural broadband deployment. updates how the public utilities commission (commission) makes an effective competition determination for high cost support mechanism (HCSM) funding, which is financial assistance provided to telecommunications companies that provide basic telephone service or broadband service in areas that lack effective competition.”


H. 336
Status: Pending

Provides for broadband deployment incentives. Provides for the Georgia Technology Authority to develop an annual Broadband Strategy for All of Georgia report providing guidance for achieving enhanced broadband deployment throughout the state Provides for  an assessment of the advantages of broadband deployment for individuals and businesses to rural Georgia, including, but not limited to, education, telemedicine and economic development.

H.Res. 688
Status: Pending

A resolution urging the U.S. Congress and federal agencies to do all within their powers to bring high-speed broadband access to rural America, and for other purposes.

S. 232
Status: Pending

To enact the Facilitating Internet Broadband Rural Expansion (FIBRE) Act. Provides for broadband service planning, deployment, and incentives.. Provides for the creation and administration of the Gigabit Ready Community Site designation program by the Department of Economic Development. Changes the definitions relative to the One Georgia Authority Act to include broadband services in the terms cost of project and project. Provides for related matters. Provides for effective dates and applicability. Repeals conflicting laws.

S. 256
Status: Pending

Relates to the State Properties Code, to authorize the State Properties Commission to enter into leases in certain rural technology lease eligible counties for the purpose of providing wireless service or broadband service to the public without submission to the General Assembly for approval. Provides for definitions. Provides for terms and conditions. Provides for related matters. Repeals conflicting laws.

S.R. 392
Status: Pending

Would create the Senate Rural Georgia Study Committee.


H. 1626
Status: Adopted

Study of Universal Service for Telecommunications. Relates to broadband adoption; urges the legislative council to assign a committee to the topic of rural broadband service in the state.


S. 2359
Status: Pending

Requires rural telecommunications companies representation on 911 coordinating council, invest in broadband access in schools, hospitals and libraries.


H. 343
Status: Adopted

Creates the Kentucky Communications Network Authority and its board. Requires rural telecom representation on the board. Oversee the growth and maintenance of KentuckyWired, the commonwealth’s open-access broadband network.


H. 951
Status: Failed

To enact measures designed to increase broadband access for rural communities. Directs the ConnectME Authority to create an accurate map of broadband coverage in the state; directs the ConnectME Authority to provide funding for the provision of digital literacy programs, particularly in rural areas of the state.


Exec. Order MD 14
Status: Adopted

Establishes the Office of Rural Broadband in the Department of Information Technology.

H. 1169 Connecting Rural Maryland Act
Status: Enacted

Establishes the task force on Rural Internet, Broadband, Wireless, and Cellular Service. Authorizes the chair of the task force to appoint additional members as deemed necessary. Requires that the task force study and make recommendations on ways counties can work together to obtain federal assistance to improve communications services and accessibility. Requires the task force to report its specified findings and recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly on or before the specified date.

H. 1313
Status: Failed

For the purpose of requiring a certain telephone company to provide and maintain wired broadband service in a certain manner or pay the cost of providing wired broadband service to the Rural Broadband Assistance Fund, and for other purposes.


H. 1759
Status: Pending

Creates a special commission to examine the state of the advanced telecommunications broadband industry in Massachusetts, including fiber-to-the-premises, cable, wireless, and landline technologies to recommend a rational and balanced approach to oversight of the interconnected telecommunications network of the future, and ensure the broadband network. Must examine rural health, FirstNet and other programs.


H. 1650
Status: Failed

Establishes a grant to make grants to assist businesses in paying costs associated with providing and expanding cellular and broadband access and coverage in rural counties and rural municipalities. Provides that the Mississippi Development Authority shall administer the grant program created in this act. Creates a special fund in the state treasury, designated as the rural counties and municipalities cellular and broadband fund. Authorizes the issuance of a state general bond.

New Mexico

H.Res. 96
Status: Adopted

Urges the congressional delegation to ensure that the state is granted no less than its pro-rata share of any federal stimulus funding, and request the establishment of a broadband task force to study all proposals submitted for broadband stimulus funding.

S. 308
Status: Enacted

Amending the Rural Telecommunications Act of New Mexico to Update the State Rural Universal Service Fund provisions and establish a broadband program administered by the public regulation commission to facilitate the expansion of broadband service in rural areas.

S. 53
Status: Enacted

Enacts sections of the New Mexico Telecommunications Act to provide for Public Regulation Commission jurisdiction over incumbent local exchange carriers and their investment in telecommunications and broadband infrastructure.

New Hampshire

H. 238

Status: Enacted

Creates a committee to study broadband access to the Internet. Required to explore means to expand the adoption of wireless and wired broadband technologies into rural areas with low adoption rates.

New York

NY A 2049
Status: Pending

Creates a tax credit for people who deliver broadband services to a target group of subscribers. Legislative Intent: The telecommunications revolution is transforming virtually every aspect of American life. Encouraging rapid development of broadband infrastructure, and ensuring the ubiquitous availability of current and next generation broadband capacity is an urgent priority of the legislature. Increasing the speed at which Americans can access the Internet is necessary to ensure the economic expansion of the state of New York. End users from all parts of the state, including urban, rural and low income areas, should be afforded a choice among carriers, high-speed access to a wide array of audio and data applications, and the opportunity to take advantage of the prospects created by the deployment and use of current and next generation broadband facilities. Accordingly, it is appropriate for the legislature to take action to accelerate the deployment of current and next generation broadband capability in the state of New York.

NY A 4869
Status: Pending

Amend the state technology law and the tax law, in relation to a refundable tax credit provided to broadband deployment to residences and small businesses located in rural, unserved areas.


S. 53
Status: Enacted

Revises the duties of the director to include, without limitation: (1) developing a strategic plan for the use of broadband services in this state; (2) applying for state and federal funding to expand broadband services in this state; (3) expanding telehealth services to increase access to health care in this state; (4) expanding fiber infrastructure in this state for the benefit of public safety; and for other purposes.

North Carolina

S. 65
Status: Pending

Encourages the establishment of bright markets by adding the digital infrastructure necessary for economic development and innovation in key markets, including broadband, retail online services, internet of things, grid, power, health care, and training and education. Identifies North Carolina's population of residents living in rural areas is the second largest of any state, with more than 3.3 million people living in the 85 counties considered rural.

S. 430
Status: Pending

Establish Broadband Deployment Grants for last-mile or middle-mile infrastructure projects. Grants are to be technology-neutral.


H. 2091
Status: Enacted

Authorizes Public Utility Commission to use universal service fund monies to encourage broadband service availability and to provide support to telecommunications carriers that provide both basic telephone service and broadband service; and for other purposes.


H.Res. 429
Status: Pending

Establishes a legislative task force on the delivery of high speed broadband services; directs the Joint State Government Commission to establish an advisory committee to conduct a study on the delivery of high speed broadband services in unserved areas and underserved areas.


S. 126 Rural Broadband Grant Expansion Program
Status: Pending

The TRA shall administer the Tennessee Rural Broadband Grant Expansion Program and shall: (1) Hold a workshop, create a program, and make broadband expansion grants to eligible applicants for funding the construction, expansion, or operation of broadband infrastructure in underserved areas; and (2) Establish criteria for evaluating applications and issuing orders awarding grants under this section.


S. 34
Status: Enacted

Establishes a Rural Economic Development Initiative to promote and facilitate community economic development in the small towns and rural areas of the state. Initiative shall provide the following services to small towns and businesses in rural areas: (1) Identification of grant or other funding opportunities available to small towns, businesses in rural areas, and industrial parks in small towns and rural areas that facilitate business development, siting of businesses, workforce development, broadband deployment, infrastructure development, or other economic development opportunities.

West Virginia

H. 3093
Status: Enacted

Provides loan insurance for commercial loans used for the expansion of broadband service to unserved or underserved areas. Establishes the broadband enhancement council. It creates the Broadband Enhancement Fund, and requires the establishment of a mapping of broadband services in the state. The council shall publish an annual assessment and map of the status of broadband, including specifically, designations of unserved and underserved areas of the state.


WI A 348
Status: Pending

Limits the authority of the state and political subdivisions to regulate wireless facilities and authorizing political subdivisions to impose setback requirements for certain mobile service support structures.