(a) The council shall:
(1) Explore the potential for increased use of broadband service for the purposes of education, career readiness, workforce preparation and alternative career training;
(2) Explore ways for encouraging state and municipal agencies to expand the development and use of broadband services for the purpose of better serving the public, including audio and video streaming, voice-over Internet protocol, teleconferencing and wireless networking; and
(3) Cooperate and assist in the expansion of electronic instruction and distance education services by July 2014.
(b) In addition to the powers set forth elsewhere in this article, the council is hereby granted, has and may exercise all powers necessary or appropriate to carry out and effectuate the purpose and intent of this article. The council shall have the power and capacity to:
(1) Provide consultation services to project sponsors in connection with the planning, acquisition, improvement, construction or development of any broadband deployment project;
(2) Promote awareness of public facilities that have community broadband access that can be used for distance education and workforce development;
(3) Advise on deployment of e-government portals such that all public bodies and political subdivisions have homepages, encourage one-stop government access and that all public entities stream audio and video of all public meetings;
(4) To make and execute contracts, commitments and other agreements necessary or convenient for the exercise of its powers, including, but not limited to, the hiring of consultants to assist in the mapping of the state, categorization of areas within the state and evaluation of project applications: Provided, That the provisions of article three, chapter five-a of this code do not apply to the agreements and contracts executed under the provisions of this article;
(5) Acquire by gift or purchase, hold or dispose of real property and personal property in the exercise of its powers and performance of its duties as set forth in this article;
(6) Receive and dispense funds appropriated for its use by the Legislature or other funding sources or solicit, apply for and receive any funds, property or services from any person, governmental agency or organization to carry out its statutory duties; and
(7) Perform any and all other activities in furtherance of its purpose.
(c) The council shall exercise its powers and authority to bring broadband service to unserved areas. The council may not duplicate or displace broadband service in areas already served or where private industry feasibly can be expected to offer services in the reasonably foreseeable future.
In providing governmental funding for broadband deployment projects, the council shall give priority to funding for projects in areas without access to broadband service of any type or any speed before providing governmental funding for projects in areas with existing broadband service below the minimum speeds specified in section two of this article.
(d) The council shall report to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance on or before January 1 of each year. The report shall include the action that was taken by the council during the previous year in carrying out the provisions of this article. The council shall also make any other reports as may be required by the Legislature or the Governor.