(1) The Legislature finds that broadband Internet service is critical to the economic development of the state and is beneficial for libraries, schools, colleges and universities, health care providers, and community organizations. The Legislature further finds that barriers exist to the statewide deployment of broadband Internet service, especially in rural, unserved, or underserved communities. The Legislature therefore intends to promote the efficient and effective deployment of broadband Internet service throughout the state through a coordinated statewide effort.
(2) The Department of Management Services is authorized to work collaboratively with, and to receive staffing support and other resources from, Enterprise Florida, Inc., state agencies, local governments, private businesses, and community organizations to:
(a) Conduct a needs assessment of broadband Internet service in collaboration with communications service providers, including, but not limited to, wireless and wireline Internet service providers, to develop geographical information system maps at the census tract level that will:
1. Identify geographic gaps in broadband services, including areas unserved by any broadband provider and areas served by a single broadband provider;
2. Identify the download and upload transmission speeds made available to businesses and individuals in the state, at the census tract level of detail, using data rate benchmarks for broadband service used by the Federal Communications Commission to reflect different speed tiers; and
3. Provide a baseline assessment of statewide broadband deployment in terms of percentage of households with broadband availability.
(b) Create a strategic plan that has goals and strategies for increasing the use of broadband Internet service in the state.
(c) Build and facilitate local technology planning teams or partnerships with members representing cross-sections of the community, which may include, but are not limited to, representatives from the following organizations and industries: libraries, K-12 education, colleges and universities, local health care providers, private businesses, community organizations, economic development organizations, local governments, tourism, parks and recreation, and agriculture.
(d) Encourage the use of broadband Internet service, especially in the rural, unserved, and underserved communities of the state through grant programs having effective strategies to facilitate the statewide deployment of broadband Internet service. For any grants to be awarded, priority must be given to projects that:
1. Provide access to broadband education, awareness, training, access, equipment, and support to libraries, schools, colleges and universities, health care providers, and community support organizations.
2. Encourage investments in primarily unserved areas to give consumers a choice of more than one broadband Internet service provider.
3. Work toward establishing affordable and sustainable broadband Internet service in unserved areas of the state.
4. Facilitate the development of applications, programs, and services, including, but not limited to, telework, telemedicine, and e-learning to increase the usage of, and demand for, broadband Internet service in the state.
(3) The department may apply for and accept federal funds for purposes of this section, as well as gifts and donations from individuals, foundations, and private organizations.
(4) The department is authorized to enter into contracts necessary or useful to carry out the purposes of this section.
(5) The department is authorized to establish any committee or workgroup to administer and carry out the purposes of this section.
(6) The department is authorized to adopt rules necessary to carry out the purposes of this section, including, without limitation, the authority to establish definitions of terms pertinent to this section.