February 13, 2018

Luján Introduces Legislation to Help Development of High Speed Internet in New Mexico and Other Areas of the Country

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) today introduced the Broadband Infrastructure Inventory Act, a bill to create an inventory of assets that can be used for the development of broadband and other communication services in New Mexico and other parts of the country. Lujan’s bill is especially important for rural communities where broadband infrastructure often lags behind urban areas.

Because federal lands, buildings, and assets can be used as conduits for broadband and other communication services, Lujan’s bill requires executive agencies to provide information to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on the locations of existing infrastructure and real property held by the federal government. This database - which would include federal buildings, lands, rights-of-way, easements, utility poles, wireless communications towers, underground utility routes, or cable - would be available to entities that build communication infrastructure. The bill will also allow state and local governments to voluntarily add their assets to this database. Lujan’s bill will spur greater development of high-speed internet service in states like New Mexico where it is badly needed.

According to the FCC’s most recent broadband progress report (released in 2016):

  • nearly half a million people – 431,125 – in New Mexico lack access to high-speed, fixed broadband;
  • including 61% of rural New Mexicans;
  • and 80% of New Mexicans living on tribal lands.

“Today high-speed internet access isn’t just a nice add-on; it is necessary for educational success, civic engagement, economic growth, smart health care, and just staying connected to family and friends,” said Luján.  “But that simply isn’t the case in many parts of our state and in many other parts of the country. This bill will give us a place to start as we bridge the digital divide and end, once and for all, the reality of digital haves and have-nots.”

An internet industry report published last year noted that in addition to many residents having no access to broadband service, New Mexico has the second-slowest internet speed of any state in the nation – barely ahead of Idaho and lagging far behind top-ranking Delaware, Massachusetts and Washington, DC.

“My hope is that in the not-too-distant future, we will be able to say that every New Mexican community, every New Mexican business and every individual in New Mexico has access to high speed internet service,” said Luján. “This legislation is just a start, but it is a good start.”