‘This is a step forward’: New bill expands broadband access in Nebraska

Local News

JACKSON, Neb. (KCAU) – For some Nebraskans, high-speed internet could be on its way. Governor Pete Ricketts announced Wednesday an expansion of broadband internet statewide to 30,000 homes.

According to Ricketts, around 80,000 Nebraskans still don’t have access to high-speed internet, but improving broadband services has continued to be one of the state’s top priorities.

Pat McElroy is the CEO of Northeast Nebraska Telephone Company. He said the state can expect $40 million in matching grants over the course of two years in order to expand the state’s broadband.

“This is a step forward by Nebraska and it’s helping, It’ll help accelerate us doing that, but it takes a long time, I mean to solve the problem of rural internet, is going to be a five to seven year project,” McElroy said.

“We have beautiful places and lots of wide open spaces and that causes a lot of expenses to be able to do it. So to build broadband in a lot of those areas, it’s not always economically feasible so this type of a program will help,” says McElroy.

Access to high-speed internet is vital to many Nebraskans. Some schools have made providing better internet access a top priority for students.

“We have students that can, you can come up to the school at any time 24-7, in the parking lot of the school if you need faster bandwidth, whatever, so we do have that service for our students as well,” says Kristie Hayes, a school technologist at Ponca Public Schools.

“But I do think its the state senators and the governor acknowledging that we’ve got to get this problem solved, and we’re going to get it solved,” McElroy proclaimed.

For a link to view the bill, click here.

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