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Broadband/Telecommunications Legislation Introduced

posted Apr 17, 2014, 11:12 AM by Megan Chadwick Gernert - OIT   [ updated Apr 17, 2014, 11:58 AM ]
Multiple bills that seek to update and modernize Colorado’s broadband and telecommunications environment were introduced into the House on March 20th.  The five bills are intended to reshape the regulatory and statutory environment that broadband and telecom companies operate within Colorado.  The five individual bills are the following:

  • HB14-1327:  “Concerning measures to expand the deployment of communication networks, and, in connection therewith, enacting the ‘Broadband Deployment Act’”:  This bill creates a sales-tax exemption for broadband carriers for infrastructure purchased to upgrade their networks.  Additionally, it streamlines the local process for tower approvals and establishes that broadband providers have the same access to state rights-of-way as traditional telecommunications companies.  It also requires CDOT to create and maintain a list of companies to notify if they will be performing trenching activities along any state highway.  This bill was amended in the House Finance Committee on April 2nd.  The amended version does not include the sale-tax exemption. 
  • HB 14-1328:  “Concerning the deployment of broadband into unserved areas of Colorado through grant-making from moneys allocated from the Colorado High Cost Support Mechanism.”:  The purpose of this bill is to establish a mechanism for transferring moneys from the current High Cost Support Mechanism (HCSM) to a “Broadband Fund” with the purpose of investing in broadband in unserved areas of the state.  The bill established a multi-stakeholder “Broadband Deployment Board” to oversee the fund and ties the definition of “unserved” to the FCC definition of broadband (currently 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up).
  • HB 14-1329: “Concerning the exemption of certain internet-protocol-enabled services from oversight by the Public Utilities Commission.”:  This bill statutorily eliminates the Colorado PUC’s ability to regulate certain IP-Based services. 
  • HB 14-1330: “Concerning an update of telecommunications terminology for intrastate telecommunications services.”:  This bill updates many definitions within current telecommunications/broadband statutes and regulations that are either out-of-date based on current technology or are no longer applicable.
  • HB 14-1331: “Concerning the regulation of basic local exchange service as it affects effective competition.”:  This bill updates and modifies the regulations that incumbent telecommunications carriers must operate within in offering traditional voice-only services.
These bills were collectively assigned to the House Business, Labor, Economic and Workforce Development Committee and were heard on March 25th.  All bills passed through committee with bipartisan support to the House Appropriations Committee (HB14-1330 was sent to the House Finance Committee first).  The sales-tax exemption was removed from HB 14-1327 in the Finance Committee.  On April 9th, all five bills were heard (as amended) on the House floor and were passed with a significant, bipartisan majority.   The bills were heard in the Senate Business, Labor & Technology Committee on April 16th with all passing unanimously.  The bills will now be heard in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee. No date has been set yet for the bills to be heard in committee, check the Senate Calendar which is updated daily. 

Please check the Colorado Broadband Collaboration Portal for updates.  These bills can be viewed and tracked through the state legislature’s website.