As broadband expansion efforts increase nationwide, digital equity advocates are working to ensure that urban communities are included. New federal funding opportunities are adding fuel to these efforts.
State officials hope to get a large chunk of the more than $65 billion that is available to improve broadband access across the nation through the infrastructure bill that was approved last year.
With billions of broadband infrastructure dollars at stake, states have to ensure that digital equity programs are sustainable long after federal money has been spent. Here’s how they can do it.
The New Orleans City Council voted unanimously on June 9 to hold two of Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s top aides in contempt for missing a deadline to turn over documents relating to the failed “smart city” broadband deal.
The Biden administration has taken its first steps toward releasing $45 billion of federal funding for broadband and digital equity, with the money going first to state governments tasked with executing the vision.
A recent study found that the state’s investment to connect 238,000 households by 2026 would raise worker wages, help bridge digital divides and boost the state’s labor income by $843 million annually.
The federal government has allotted millions of dollars to bridge the digital divide in Indigenous communities through infrastructure development and offsetting Internet costs to increase accessibility.
The amount the state receives will rely on how many people have poor or no Internet access. But time is short to accurately collect the information. The planning grant deadline is Aug. 15.
The federal government’s historic investment in broadband could fall short of its goals if it doesn’t improve digital skills. A leading expert explains the importance of digital human capital.
Despite some uncertainty as to the exact amount state agencies will receive from the IIJA funding, offices are hiring staff to identify financial need for projects such as roads, bridges, broadband and public transit.
The mayor announced that he will focus on affordable housing, violence prevention, broadband expansion, lead removal and City Hall upgrades in spending American Recovery Plan Act funds.
Installing broadband in the region is extremely difficult and expensive because of low population density and a rugged topography. But millions in federal funding has some officials hopeful that more residents will get connected.
The success of investments in broadband equity depends on pinpointing where gaps exist. New maps from Utah State University’s Center for Growth and Opportunity aim to bring them into better focus.
The state has poured $500 million into expanding Internet connectivity in rural areas but many residents are still experiencing extremely slow speeds, impacting their ability to do their jobs.
A study found the Pennsylvania county had the most homes and businesses, primarily in rural areas, with the slowest Internet connections in a 10-county region. The poor quality of broadband has become an equity issue.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill appears to transform how the federal government subsidizes broadband infrastructure. But evidence suggests that big companies may not allow the status quo to change without a fight.