SANTA FE ― Rep. Jim Smith (R-Bernalillo, Sandoval and Santa Fe) presented legislation Tuesday to the House State Government, Indians and Veterans Affairs Committee to establish and maintain a statewide broadband network in New Mexico.
His bill, 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 cosponsored by Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-Bernalillo).
“Coordinating resources and demand between our state agencies and schools is a win-win for everyone,” Smith said. “It will help upgrade infrastructure, especially in our rural areas, and bring faster broadband service to all New Mexicans. Improving connection speed will help create new job opportunities in our rural communities and provide access to critical telehealth services as well.”
New Mexico has one of the highest school internet connectivity rates in the country with over 90 percent of schools in the state connected to fiber networks.
However, connection speeds at the schools are among the slowest in the country. Smith’s bill would aggregate demand between public users to reduce costs and encourage additional investment in electronic infrastructure throughout the state.
The committee unanimously approved Smith’s bill. It has also been referred to the House Labor and Economic Development Committee and will be heard by that committee next.