The Maryland Green Party endorses HB 1313, The Wired Broadband Act of 2017, which would require landline telephone companies to commit to extending universal wired broadband access throughout the state. While most of the state is going cellular for primary phone and data usage, many people in rural counties and older Marylanders still use landline telephone and data services.
Including the Green Party, this bill has tripartisan support, for it is a matter of common sense. It allows the Rural Broadband Assistance Fund (RBAF) to actually focus on expanding broadband services by no longer facing the favoritism hurdle. Currently, RBAF cannot compel companies to provide broadband service since some telephone providers do not yet have that capability. Should this bill pass, all landline telephone companies will have to begin providing wired broadband access.
Greens recognize the need for households and businesses to be connected with the global community. We call for wired broadband access as a taxpayer-funded utility, in order to eliminate the digital divide that prevents too many low income folks from accessing the internet. HB 1313 is a bold step forward by making it “the responsibility of the State to ensure that every home and business in the State has access to at least one wired broadband option” (See Page 2, Line 7).
Thousands of people across the state have zero options for wired broadband service. By making sure everyone has the option, we are closer to making sure:
Businesses can keep up and grow in the 21st Century
People have access to online markets
Rural communities no longer have an information blackout
Students have access to the internet from home
Financially speaking, this bill does not affect the cost nor the operations of local governments, and it can only help small businesses. This is a relatively tiny investment made by the State.
Please contact your representatives today and tell them you support HB 1313.