The Washington state Legislature held its first hearing on Wednesday, Jan. 27, on House Bill (HB 1336) that would create and expand the authority of a public utility district or local government to provide internet services to Washington residents. To read the text of the most current draft of the proposed bill for yourself, go to http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2021-22/Pdf/Bills/House%20Bills/1336.pdf?q=20210126111151.
For decades the large telecom companies (CenturyLink, Comcast, etc.) have had a legislative stranglehold on rural Washingtonians' internet options. These large companies have had an unfair advantage over smaller companies trying to compete in the marketplace — just ask the folks at ToledoTel what has kept them from spreading fiber cable beyond their Toledo borders. Local PUDs like our own have been unfairly prevented from expanding their customers’ access to decent internet access because the big companies have kept a legislative lock in place.
It's time for that to change.
This bill is a good first step in improving internet access for Lewis County residents and all Washingtonians. But don’t believe for a second that these large telecom companies aren’t going to fight this tooth and nail, and they definitely have the dollars to do so. The voices of the people are the only thing that can challenge their monopoly. Please call or email your state representative and state senator today to voice your support for this bill to improve rural internet! Go to https://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/ to get their contact information.