(Ridgeland, MS) – AARP Mississippi applauds the Mississippi Legislature for passing House Bill 366, The Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act. The legislation was signed into law by Governor Phil Bryant today.

“Expanding access to broadband is an important quality of life issue for Mississippians who live in rural areas,” said AARP Mississippi State Director Kimberly L. Campbell, Esq. “High-speed internet access can provide opportunities for Mississippians to use telehealth, distance learning and other technologies. It also could help combat social isolation by among older Mississippians.”

The Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act will allow the state’s electric power associations to provide broadband services. The legislation changed a 1942 law that said electric power associations could only provide electricity. The Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act allows the EPAs to own, build, maintain and operate a broadband system as part of its electric delivery system.

According to America’s Digital Divide, a report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, 60 percent of rural Mississippians do not have access to broadband. The Federal Communications Commission has found that 79 percent of Mississippi households are not connected to the internet at speeds defined as broadband – 25 megabits per second download speed and three megabits per second upload speed.

“Our volunteers were very engaged in this issue by talking with their legislators and attending a broadband town hall that AARP Mississippi sponsored with Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley. We also thank Speaker Philip Gunn, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Chairman Sally Doty and Chairman Jim Beckett for their leadership in passing this legislation.”