House Advances Bill To Expand NM Broadband

SANTA FE Monday night, the New Mexico House of Representatives approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Smith (R-Bernalillo, Sandoval and Santa Fe) to establish a statewide broadband network in New Mexico and help create new job opportunities in communities across the state.
House Bill 113 would direct the State Chief Information Officer to work with state government and educational institutions to coordinate funding for the network and pool demand. The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-Bernalillo) who also has introduced a duplicate measure in the Senate.
“Passing House Bill 113 sends a message to investors that New Mexico is committed to building a modern communication infrastructure that will meet present needs and future demand,” Smith said. “By coordinating resources, we can economically and efficiently upgrade infrastructure throughout the New Mexico, especially in our rural areas, and encourage economic growth. A faster, more reliable broadband network will help us create new jobs in our rural communities and improve access to crucial educational and telehealth services. I appreciate the House’s support of this measure.”
“House Bill 113 creates a sensible blueprint for the future of broadband in New Mexico,” Ivey-Soto said. “This will extend the benefits to schools, small businesses, and telehealth throughout the state.”
New Mexico has one of the highest school Internet connectivity rates in the country with more than 90 percent of schools in the state connected to fiber networks. However, connection speeds at the schools are among the slowest in the country. House Bill 113 would aggregate demand between public users to reduce costs and encourage additional investment in electronic infrastructure throughout the state.
The House passed the legislation by an overwhelmingly broad bipartisan vote of 61 to 5. It will now move to the Senate for consideration.