(STATEHOUSE) – A bill authored by State Sen. Eric Koch (R-Bedford), that would request the Interim Study Committee on Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications to study the potential to use existing electric company infrastructure to provide high-speed broadband in rural areas recently passed the Senate unanimously.
Senate Bill 411 would initiate a study of whether, and under what conditions, to allow the state’s investor-owned electric utilities to lease their excess broadband capacity – used for advanced metering technology – to broadband internet service providers in rural areas without internet service.
This concept is an expansion of 2017 legislation authored by Sen. Koch, Senate Enrolled Act 478, which authorized Indiana’s rural electric membership cooperatives (REMCs) to use their existing electric easements and infrastructure to provide broadband internet service. Since that law was enacted, 10 of Indiana’s 38 REMCs have begun providing broadband internet service within their electric service territories and 12 more are anticipated to offer service by 2025.
SB 411 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
For more information on Senate Bill 411, visit https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2020/bills/Senate/411.
Sen. Koch, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, serves Senate District 44, which includes all or parts of Bartholomew, Brown, Jackson, Lawrence and Monroe counties.