Transportation and Telecommunications

Updated broadband standards, 911 requirements approved

Lawmakers gave final approval April 11 to a bill harmonizing broadband internet standards and creating new requirements related to Nebraska’s 911 service system.

Sen. Bruce Bostelman
Sen. Bruce Bostelman

Under LB1031, sponsored by Brainard Sen. Bruce Bostelman, the Nebraska Public Service Commission may not provide ongoing high-cost support from the Nebraska Telecommunications Universal Service Fund for any broadband serviceable location not capable of internet access at speeds of at least 100 megabits per second for downloading and 20 Mbps for uploading, unless the location is subject to a federally enforceable commitment for deployment of infrastructure capable of those speeds.

The requirement takes effect 18 months after the bill’s operative date.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2029, the commission may not provide ongoing high-cost support for those locations regardless of any federally enforceable commitment.

LB1031 also updates several areas of state law to define broadband service as capable of providing internet access at speeds of at least 100 Mbps for downloading and 20 Mbps for uploading.

The provisions of five other bills heard by the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee this session also are included in LB1031.

The provisions of LB865, also sponsored by Bostelman, require broadband internet service providers operating in Nebraska to submit an annual report to the Nebraska Broadband Office with information on each standard internet service plan advertised by the provider and the associated rates.

Under the provisions of LB1038, introduced by Sen. Barry DeKay of Niobrara, at least one of the five members representing the general public on the Nebraska Information Technology Commission must have agriculture as their principal business or occupation.

The provisions of LB1180, sponsored by Lincoln Sen. Anna Wishart, revise standards and criteria that determine eligibility of deaf, hard of hearing and speech-impaired Nebraskans who apply to the PSC for specialized telecommunications equipment.

Under the bill, two residents at the same address can receive equipment, and a recipient can reapply for assistance every three years instead of every five.

The amended provisions of LB1255, introduced by Sen. John Fredrickson of Omaha, require originating service providers, providers of telecommunications relay services and the state’s next-generation 911 service contractor to ensure that 911 calls are transmitted to the next-generation 911 network no later than Jan. 1, 2026.

Providers and the contractor also are required to cause all translation and routing to be completed to deliver all 911 calls to the network.

Providers may enter into an agreement with the commission to establish an alternative deadline for meeting the requirements.

Additionally, providers and the contractor must enter into an agreement to meet the transmission, translation and routing requirements no later than 10 months before the 2026 deadline. If no agreement is reached by then, they are required to notify the PSC to seek resolution.

LB1031 also requires the contractor to submit an annual report to the committee and the PSC on the capabilities and redundancies of the next-generation 911 network.

Under the amended provisions of LB1256, sponsored by Bennington Sen. Wendy DeBoer, a communications service provider required to file reports regarding 911 service system outages with the Federal Communications Commission also is required to file copies of those reports with the PSC.

The bill requires the PSC to hold a public hearing within 90 days of receiving a report. The requirement does not apply if a provider withdraws the report filed with the FCC or if the PSC waives it by a majority vote.

LB1031 passed on a vote of 47-0 and takes effect immediately.

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