An Indiana House committee advanced a bill that would roll back certain regulations telecom providers have when working in a public right of way. However, it’s still unclear exactly how extensive those rollbacks are.
Legislators say they worked late into the night to meet the committee deadline and a final version of the bill was not available. Part of the debate centers around the price providers pay to place infrastructure along highways.
Telecom providers say the bill would increase access to broadband in rural areas. But others worry about the implications the bill would have on the Indiana Department of Transportation's ability to regulate state highways and interstates.
“We want to work within those guidelines,” Smithville Communications Executive Vice President, Cullen McCarthy, says. “But at the same time, it could become cost prohibitive to deliver service on those rights of way that are covered and would be charged an access rate.”
Currently, INDOT charges to access certain state rights of way.
The final version is expected to be ironed out during a second reading later this week.