THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA: Faster downloads for everyone — Broadband bills pass in committee

Mar 26, 2009

If it took more than a couple seconds for you to get this story to come up on your computer, take heart.

Florida would be able to seek federal money for the building of broadband Internet infrastructure under legislation approved unanimously Wednesday by the House Economic Development Council. Under the federal stimulus act, there is $7.2 billion available for grant and loan programs to stimulate broadband infrastructure development.

The committee’s bill (PCB EDCA 09-03) would authorize the Department of Management Services, Enterprise Florida, and local governments and private businesses and organizations to collaborate on grant applications to get some of that money.

The ultimate goal, in addition to stimulating the economy through the infrastructure development, is to boost economic success by making fast Internet more widely available.

“Universal broadband access will benefit all Floridians in a global marketplace,” said the committee’s chairman, Rep. Dave Murzin, R-Pensacola. The bill drew bipartisan support.

“Community organizations, industry in this state, and even every government sector, will benefit and be able to operate more efficiently and effectively with full broadband infrastructure support,” said Rep. Ronald Brise, D-Miami.

In addition to the measure aimed at spurring grant money, the committee also unanimously approved an accompanying public records bill that would keep the proprietary business plans of telecom companies involved in the broadband improvement from becoming public. The council bills could now be given a committee reference, or go straight to the floor.