Utility poles play a critical role in advancing broadband expansion into unserved areas. Often times, broadband providers seek to attach to multiple utility poles in rural areas just to serve one home. This presents a major, costly problem as many of these old utility poles need to be replaced to handle new broadband attachments. Establishing a broadband infrastructure pole upgrade program would aid in the removal of an existing utility pole and replacement with a new utility pole that can accommodate broadband and other existing attachments. This would help expedite the process by which internet service providers build out network infrastructure in areas where there is no broadband.

Other states have established similar pole replacement funds:

  • Texas: $75 million
  • North Carolina: $100 million
  • Kentucky: $20 million
  • Missouri: $15 million

This represents progress, but similar legislation in Florida has yet to reach the governor’s desk. While the framework of the broadband infrastructure pole upgrade program passed the Florida Senate in 2022, funding to initiate the program was not included in the final bill. With federal funding still available to support broadband expansion, there must be greater urgency to devote some portion of it to modernize Florida’s utility poles. That is why CTF strongly encourages Governor DeSantis and the legislature to take up this issue during the next legislative session as a means of accelerating the rapid expansion of broadband infrastructure throughout our state.