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Mike Jacobson

Sen. Mike Jacobson

District 42

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Although the Nebraska Legislature has adjourned the 107th biennium, the Legislative term continues through Jan. 3.

As we move through the summer, I am meeting with groups across the district to better understand their needs and begin drafting legislation for the 108th biennium that begins on Jan. 4.

I plan to continue to write about some of the issues I am seeing and discussing possible solutions.

This week I want to focus on the need for broadband and cell phone connectivity. Take a drive on U.S. Highway 83 to Thedford, or drive Neb. Highway 97 to Mullen, and you will find your cell phone coverage is very limited.

Although all the county seats in District 42 have fiber connections, most of our rural areas are still without high-speed broadband. Go to the eastern half of the state and you find multiple carriers providing high speed internet services at competitive prices.

Broadband services are following the same path that rural electrification once did many years ago. First the larger cities were wired, then the smaller towns, and ultimately the rural areas were connected. The issue always comes down to the cost to get people connected. The technology has improved greatly over the years, and we now can connect people in more remote rural areas by using towers that are connected with fiber.

The tower uses a radio transmitter to connect rural users with the use of a satellite dish. The speed of the connection is much faster than the older technology and the cost is much less than running fiber to each doorstep. The speed is a function of the distance to the tower.

In this past legislative session, I helped pass LB 388 sponsored by Sen. Curt Friesen. The bill is referred to the Broadband Bridge Act. The Broadband Bridge program was created to facilitate and fund the development of broadband networks in unserved and underserved areas. The program provides grants of up to $5 million to political subdivisions to be used to install broadband services in areas of the state that lack broadband internet, providing speeds of at least 25 megabits per second for downloading and three megabits per second for uploading.

As precision agriculture continues to demand better connectivity, this type of technology is imperative.
We are also seeing a trend where more and more people are moving out of larger cities in other states to rural areas in the Midwest. Many are young people who are choosing to raise their families in the Midwest where they can access higher quality schools and Midwestern values.

In most cases, these people are keeping their higher paying jobs and simply working remotely from home. We also have limitless possibilities of improving remote learning in our schools if we have a reliable broadband network for students, either in their local school building or in their homes in remote area.

This can only be possible if we have access to high-speed broadband services.

As your state senator, I will continue to fight to better educate those living in the eastern third of the state that we have needs in this end of the state as well. Additionally, I will continue to advocate to invest more of the state’s resources here, as opposed to always focusing east. Far too many state projects such as the Nebraska State Fair, the Veterans Home, and other state funded projects fail to find their way west. I intend to change that.

It is an honor to represent you and District 42 at the Nebraska Legislature. Please continue to reach out to me at mjacobson@leg.ne.gov or 402-471-2729 regarding the issues you care about.

Sen. Mike Jacobson

District 42
Room 1302
P.O. Box 94604
Lincoln, NE 68509
(402) 471-2729
Email: mjacobson@leg.ne.gov
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