This week, Governor Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2596, paving the way to push more broadband into underserved rural areas and tribal lands. The bill allows private broadband providers to install, operate and maintain telecommunications equipment within the Arizona Department of Transportation’s (ADOT) rights-of-way.
HB 2596, sponsored by Rep. Dr. Regina Cobb, also allows ADOT to grant access to its own broadband conduit to private telecommunications companies in a “non-exclusive and non-discriminatory manner” to reduce the cost of installing broadband infrastructure in rural areas and tribal areas, the Governor’s Office said.
“Arizona is growing and people are moving here at a record pace — and we need to ensure all parts of our booming state are connected,” Gov. Ducey said, echoing the commitment he made during his State-of-the-State address in January. “House Bill 2596 does that, and it will help Arizonans living in rural and tribal areas gain access to fast, affordable and reliable internet.”
Additionally, the legislation creates the “Smart Highway Trust Fund” to deposit leasing revenues generated from the use of ADOT rights-of-way, which are to be used for operation and maintenance of telecommunications facilities within ADOT’s rights-of-way.
“We are excited to be part of this partnership to close the broadband gap and meet the needs of Arizonans,” said ADOT Director John Halikowski.