Governor signs Rep. Mary Dye’s broadband bill

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Governor signs Rep. Mary Dye’s broadband bill

Ongoing efforts to solve rural Washington's broadband problem are bearing fruit.  After two years of give and take, legislation sponsored by Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy, has been signed into law.

House Bill 2664 facilitates the creation of much needed infrastructure allowing for broadband access in rural areas statewide. Dye's policy, which initially was met with considerable resistance in Olympia, extends telecommunications authority to all ports in Washington state.

“It has been an uphill battle, but in the end tenacity won out,” said Dye.  “This statute was brought to me by some brilliant people who see immense possibility in rural Washington.  I believe in their vision, and there is no doubt that high speed internet is a necessary part of the future.  It should be available for anyone who wants it.”

Dye points to John Whitelatch, who owns Claar Cellars in Franklin County.  Although his business is doing well, Whitelatch says growth has been hampered by a lack of adequate broadband service.

“It's been the last five or six years that we've really aggressively been trying to grow, and we have been running into problems with Internet speed,” said Whitelatch.  “It's been a thorn in our side.”

The measure could lay the foundation for what Whitelatch and thousands of other rural Washingtonians need–high speed internet at a competitive price, something not universally available.  The bill removes the definition of “rural” from current statute, giving all ports the authority to construct fiber networks.

As a result, ports can build open access networks that are affordable for any number of telecoms or internet service providers to operate in underserved towns and neighborhoods. By giving multiple providers an affordable option, and having the ports absorb the initial cost of investment, more people will have access to the global digital economy.

“This is a game changer for residents and businesses that couldn't convince any network to give them access,” said Dye. “The governor has signed the measure on the dotted line, and now it's time to roll up our sleeves.  We must begin completion of the last mile.”

Whitelatch, who travels thirty miles from his winery to the Tri-Cities in order to conduct video conferencing and other online business, agrees.  “I am excited to see how people step up,” he says. “I want to see how companies and people can use this to further grow Washington.”

House Bill 2664 goes into effect 90 days after the adjournment of the regular session. The Legislature adjourned March 8.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov