Providers of rural broadband service who do not meet connection speed expectations would be required to refund state subsidies under legislation proposed by State Sen. Justin Brown, R-Rolla.

Internet service providers who receive taxpayer money would be held accountable to the transmission speeds requirements specified in current law. Senator Brown’s Senate Bill 865 adds a claw-back provision to the Missouri Broadband Grant Program, requiring providers to pay back their grants if they fail to deliver internet download speeds of at least 25Mb per second and meet a 3Mb per second upload threshold.

“We’ve been paying these companies to provide usable internet service in rural areas and we’re not getting our money’s worth," Brown said. "Rural customers have been short-changed and have had to settle for marginal broadband access. It’s high time the taxpayers demand a money-back guarantee on the broadband performance they expect and need.”

In an age when communications and connectivity drive the economic marketplace, small towns and rural areas lag far behind urban areas in broadband, data and cellular access. Brown said he hopes his legislation will inspire telecommunications providers to improve the performance of all their services in rural areas.

“Rural customers’ bills get higher, but cell service remains poor or, in many areas, non-existent,” he said. “In the future, we may need to look for ways on the state level to prompt providers to provide not only better broadband but better voice calling capabilities as well.”

For more information about Sen. Brown, visit www.senate.mo.gov/brown.