Transportation and Telecommunications

Dark fiber licensing authorized

Lawmakers passed a bill March 15 intended to speed the deployment of broadband internet service to Nebraska’s rural areas.

Sen. Tom Brandt
Sen. Tom Brandt

Under LB61, introduced by Plymouth Sen. Tom Brandt, any agency or political subdivision of the state may lease or license the unused or “dark” portions of its fiber optic telecommunications infrastructure.

Dark fiber licenses are allowed only if they are used to provide service to unserved locations, which the bill defines as locations where broadband:
• is not available by certain technologies at speeds of at least 100 megabits per second for downloading and at least 20 megabits per second for uploading; and
• no internet service provider has a legal agreement with the federal government or the state to make broadband service available at those speeds.

The license rate must be within or above the safe harbor range of market rates established by the Nebraska Public Service Commission.

The bill requires that revenue from a dark fiber license be used only for costs associated with the license or existing dark fiber infrastructure. Revenue from the sale or delivery of electricity may not be used for costs associated with the licensing of dark fiber.

LB61 also creates a process by which an internet service provider may file a challenge with the commission alleging that a dark fiber license does not serve an unserved location.

Senators voted 47-0 to pass the bill.

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