SB 402: Achieving Connectivity Everywhere Act

We received a press release from Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle’s office concerning the Senate’s effort to address the lack of broadband connectivity in rural Georgia. Senate Bill 402, dubbed the “Achieving Connectivity Everywhere (ACE) Act”, looks to make broadband availability a concerted effort of public-private partnerships orchestrated by the state.

The legislative initiative is being spearheaded by Senator Steve Gooch (R-Dahlonega), who co-chaired the Joint Study Committee on High Speed Broadband Communications Access for all Georgians in 2016.

Although it’s targeting underserved communities, the legislation looks to benefit communities across the state by marketing a community’s broadband-ready status or working with providers to modernize their infrastructure to get “broadband-ready” status. You can read the full presser below.

Today, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and Senator Steve Gooch introduced the Achieving Connection Everywhere (ACE) Act, taking a major step to significantly improve accessible, high-speed broadband connectivity across Georgia’s rural communities.

“ACE will enable every community to modernize their broadband infrastructure and open the door to untapped growth and prosperity for Georgia’s rural citizens,” said Lt. Governor Cagle. “No Georgian should be denied the opportunities for economic development that are afforded by the internet because of where they live. This legislation builds that foundation for growth, enabling our rural communities to access new resources and create new jobs like never before.”

Georgia’s rural communities are integral to Georgia’s reputation as the number one state to do business – but far too many rural Georgians lack adequate access to broadband services. As a result, rural entrepreneurs, small business owners, and start-ups are struggling to remain competitive in the marketplace – and many rural communities lack access to critical online resources that offer improved services in health care, education, and even public safety.

Senate Bill 402, the ACE Act sponsored by Senator Steve Gooch, launches a comprehensive coordination strategy for local governments, private businesses, and rural communities in the effort to efficiently build out Georgia’s rural broadband infrastructure. For the first time, Georgia will have a state-wide broadband deployment plan that coordinates all state resources and provides for a dedicated partnership of public and private leaders to oversee implementation at the local level, with each community’s specific needs in mind.

The ACE Act also identifies targeted funding to expand rural broadband services through public and private grant programs. Local communities will be able to secure and invest resources independently for their individual needs. Ultimately, increased investment in rural broadband infrastructure will result in a dynamic and sustainable future for our rural economies.

“Lt. Governor Cagle has made it clear that rural broadband is more than just a legislative priority – it’s a vitally important quality of life issue that touches the lives of real Georgians every day,” added Senator Gooch. “The ACE Act will remove the barriers to affordable, high-speed internet so that rural Georgians can live and work with seamless access to health care, education, and other necessities.”

Update: the companion bill, HB 887, in the House is being sponsored by Rep Jay Powell (R-HD 171)

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