Broadband bill a step closer in legislature to being sent to Governor


A bill designed to help the state’s Oklahoma Broadband Office provide hundreds of millions of dollars in expanded rural broadband service, won unanimous support Monday in the Oklahoma Senate. But it’s still a few steps away from possibly being signed into law by Gov. Kevin Stitt.

House Bill 1977 was passed on a 48-0 vote, requiring the State Department of Transportation to pass emergency rules to provide for broadband fiber conduit for internet service providers for all new construction.

The measure by Rep. Carl Newton of Cherokee and Sen. Lonnie Paxton of Tuttle also requires ODOT to allow utility providers including the broadband providers the use of ODOT easements.

However, despite being passed in the House  on a vote of 85-0, the version was slightly different from the Senate approved version. In all likelihood  the bill will end up in a conference committee where it will have to return for quick votes in both houses of the legislature.

The amount of funding for Oklahoma will be announced in summer 2023 and could top $750 million.
Competitive proposals will be accepted starting in mid-2024, according to the Broadband office website.