Nevada is looking at an historic influx of broadband funding thanks to the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). But state laws designed to shield monopolies from competition have added unnecessary complications to the state’s quest to maximize an historic round of public broadband funding.
Nevada’s broadband expansion push (the “High Speed NV” initiative) will occur in two phases. First, $192 million in federal Covid relief funding will be used to drive broadband access to roughly 1,000 different anchor institutions. Another $200 million in BEAD funding will be used to expand last mile access to Nevada residences and businesses.
In many states, cooperatives, city-owned utilities, and municipalities are playing a huge role in ensuring uniform and affordable access to next-generation telecom infrastructure. Such creative, local solutions are increasingly the only meaningful competitive challenge seen by the nation’s politically-powerful telecom monopolies.
But Nevada is one of 17 states that have passed laws, usually ghost written by those same regional telecom monopolies, greatly restricting the construction and financing of municipal broadband efforts.
Two different Nevada laws (Nevada Statute § 268.086 and Nevada Statute § 710.147) currently state that only municipalities with less than 25,000 people and counties with less than 55,000 people can offer telecommunications services, undermining efforts to bring more competition and lower pricing to bear in more populous areas.
State Preemption Laws Remain
While the NTIA has encouraged all 17 states to relax or eliminate laws prohibiting...Read more