About the Task Force
LB 994, which was introduced by Senator Curt Friesen, passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Ricketts on April 17, 2018, created the Rural Broadband Task Force. LB 994 charges the task force with reviewing “issues relating to availability, adoption, and affordability of broadband services in rural areas of Nebraska.” In particular, LB 994 specifies that the task force shall:
- Determine how Nebraska rural areas compare to neighboring states and the rest of the nation in average download and upload speeds and in subscription rates to higher speed tiers, when available;
- Examine the role of the Nebraska Telecommunications Universal Service Fund in bringing comparable and affordable broadband services to rural residents and any effect of the fund in deterring or delaying capital formation, broadband competition, and broadband deployment;
- Review the feasibility of alternative technologies and providers in accelerating access to faster and more reliable broadband service for rural residents;
- Examine alternatives for deployment of broadband services to areas that remain unserved or underserved, such as reverse auction programs described in section 4 of this act, public-private partnerships, funding for competitive deployment, and other measures, and make recommendations to the Public Service Commission to encourage deployment in such areas;
- Recommend state policies to effectively utilize state universal service fund dollars to leverage federal universal service fund support and other federal funding;
- Make recommendations to the Governor and Legislature as to the most effective and efficient ways that federal broadband rural infrastructure funds received after the operative date of this section should be expended if such funds become available; and
- Determine other issues that may be pertinent to the purpose of the task force.
The task force shall present its findings in a report by Nov. 1, 2019 and by November 1 every odd-numbered year thereafter.