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Assembly Panel Oks DeAngelo Bill to Provide Free Internet Service for Public Libraries

(TRENTON) - Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo to require certain cable television companies to provide free internet access to public libraries was released by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee Monday. "Public libraries serve as the sole source of the internet for many who need access but do not have it," said DeAngelo (D- Mercer, Middlesex). "For an individual looking for work or a student working on a homework assignment, the ability to go right to a public library and use the internet is critically important. Free internet service in one or more public libraries in a community will be a great service to residents across the state." The bill (A-2563) requires cable television (CATV) companies that are applying for, or renewing, municipal franchises to provide free internet service to at least one public library in the municipality served by the CATV company. The free internet service requirement is to take effect as part of any new or renewed municipal franchise agreement that is issued or approved by the Board of Public Utilities after the effective date of this bill. The sponsor notes in the bill that the internet is an important source of news, social interaction, and employment opportunities for the public, many of whom are unable to afford the high cost of maintaining internet access in their homes. It further states that by requiring CATV companies to offer free internet service to public libraries, many members of the public who are currently unable to access the internet due to difficult economic circumstances will have a convenient and low-cost means of making use of the benefits and opportunities provided by the internet. The bill is now poised to be considered for a floor vote by the full Assembly.

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