OLYMPIA – A bill to expand access to rural broadband passed out of the Washington State Senate today with broad bipartisan support.

Senate Bill 5600, sponsored by Sen. Lisa Wellman (D-Mercer Island), extends the Universal Communications Service Program, which helps support small rural service providers to better serve rural areas in need of fiber optic broadband internet.

“Serving under 40,000 customers is tough on our local broadband suppliers. These are pockets of the state that are excluded by larger corporations and still lack quality service,” said Wellman, one if the lead voices in the 2018 push to establish the State Broadband Office.

“Broadband is essential for communities who need to access health care, education, essential services, economic development, and public health and safety. That is what rural broadband helps to provide. This is an equity bill about helping increase access for our neighbors most in need,” said Wellman.

SB 5600 now moves to the House for consideration.