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State Sen. Troy Singleton. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Senate panel advances high-speed internet commission bill

By Nikita Biryukov, December 11 2020 1:09 pm

A Senate committee cleared a bipartisan measure that aims to expand the availability of high-speed internet in New Jersey Friday.

The bill, sponsored by State Sens. Troy Singleton (D-Delran) and Steve Oroho (R-Franklin), would create a Broadband Access Study Commission that would measure the feasibility of deploying high-speed networks in parts of the state that lack them.

“High-speed internet is a necessity in our world today, but there are too many homes and communities that lack the broadband service many of us take for granted,” Oroho said. “Some rural and low-income areas have been ignored by internet providers who are reluctant to invest in the necessary infrastructure. The commission created by this bill would consider an alternative to bring the digital evolution to these residents.”

The pandemic has drawn that divide into sharp relief as students move to virtual schooling and more workers are doing their jobs from home.

The commission would study the logistics of establishing more effective networks in underserved areas. It would have to report its findings to the governor and legislature within a year of its first meeting.

“For more than 20 years, the internet has been integral to our lives, even more so now when the majority of us are working, learning and socializing remotely,” Singleton said. “Building community broadband is a necessary step to keep our residents connected to their jobs, schools, family and friends, and this study commission will determine the feasibility of putting that infrastructure in place.”

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