Times Standard (Eureka)

Wood bill aims for broadband regulation

- The Times-Standard

North Coast Assemblyma­n Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) introduced a bill on Friday that will define and regulate broadband service providers as a public utility, a news release stated.

The California Constituti­on authorizes the Legislatur­e to prescribe additional classes of private corporatio­ns or other persons as public utilities. “Public utility” currently includes every common carrier, toll bridge corporatio­n, pipeline corporatio­n, gas corporatio­n, electrical corporatio­n, telephone corporatio­n, telegraph corporatio­n, water corporatio­n, sewer system corporatio­n and heat corporatio­n, where the service is performed for, or the commodity is delivered to, the public. The bill, Assembly Bill 1714, would redefine public utility to include broadband service companies.

“Broadband has become an essential service in the daily lives of 21st century consumers and we know Americans agree,” said Wood in a prepared statement. “If we didn’t understand this before, we have certainly realized how much everyone depends on this service since 2020, when we entered the COVID-19 pandemic.”

A 2020 study from Consumer Reports found that 80% of consumers believe broadband service is as important as water and electricit­y. People rely on an internet connection to work in an office as well as remotely from home, attend virtual classrooms, apply for employment, receive medical care via telehealth services and handle financial transactio­ns.

“There are endless examples of the need for this regulation, from its importance during and after emergencie­s and disasters to the need to address digital redlining that leaves rural and marginaliz­ed communitie­s with no or slower and more expensive access than those in more dense and higher-income neighborho­ods,” said Wood. “We know that those without internet access are significan­tly disadvanta­ged, just as not having access to electricit­y was decades ago.”

Regulation would allow enforcemen­t of necessary functions such as network resiliency, reliable backup power, blackout prevention, network replacemen­t and, in other ways, ensure pre

paredness for emergencie­s.

“Just as the infrastruc­ture of water and electricit­y grew at the end of the 19th century and led to the creation of regulation to make sure that these technologi­es were available to everyone, the internet has grown to a point that demands it be regulated as a public utility subject to the same regulatory process to make sure that everyone has access to this technology, moving us closer to digital equity,” said Wood.

Read more about the bill at https://bit.ly/3So1WCq.

 ?? TIMES-STANDARD FILE ?? North Coast Assemblyma­n Jim Wood is continuing to push for greater access to broadband.
TIMES-STANDARD FILE North Coast Assemblyma­n Jim Wood is continuing to push for greater access to broadband.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States