(a) The council shall:
(1) Explore any and all ways to expand access to broadband services, including, but not limited to, middle mile, last mile and wireless applications;
(2) Gather data regarding the various speeds provided to consumers in comparison to what is advertised. The council may request the assistance of the Legislative Auditor in gathering this data;
(3) Explore the potential for increased use of broadband service for the purposes of education, career readiness, workforce preparation and alternative career training;
(4) 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
(5) Cooperate and assist in the expansion of electronic instruction and distance education services.
(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 and categorization of areas within the state;
(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 advise the Legislature on bringing broadband service to unserved and underserved areas.
(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. To the extent the report addresses data gathered in connection with subdivision (2), subsection a, section four of this article, a copy of the report shall be provided to the Attorney General. The council shall also make any other reports as may be required by the Legislature or the Governor.
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