Coronavirus and Connectivity

Through our Headlines news service, Benton is tracking the role of broadband in the response to coronavirus (COVID-19). Click on titles below for full summaries of articles and links to sources.

New Mexico Broadband Office Announces Final Set of Awards Funded by the Connect New Mexico Pilot Program

The New Mexico Office of Broadband Access and Expansion (OBAE) grants awards to 11 projects to deliver high-speed Internet to unserved and underserved communities across New Mexico. The projects involve budgets amounting to $106.3 million, which includes grant funding of $66.8 million and leveraged by cash and in-kind matching contributions of $39.5 million, yielding a match percentage of 37%. These funds will support the deployment of 803 miles of fiber to serve over 10,300 residential premises, businesses, and community institutions.

Majority Staff Memo | Connecting Every American: The Future of Rural Broadband Funding

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 8.3 million households lack access to high-speed broadband. Providing universal access to communications service—initially voice service and now broadband—has always been a challenge in the United States. Although connecting urban, populated areas is relatively easy, serving sparsely populated rural areas is difficult due to differences in terrain and population density.

How Georgia is Getting Broadband to the Most Unserved of its Unserved Areas

Georgia has found a way to get bids for, and ultimately service to, its most unserved areas. Georgia’s Deputy State Chief Information Officer and Executive Director of the Georgia Broadband Program, Jessica Simmons, said the state's Capital Projects Fund (CPF) program, funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act,  enabled its success.

Did Pandemic Aid Narrow the Digital Divide?

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of California's Pre-K–12 households lacked “full digital access,” or reliable access to high-speed internet and a connected device, according to Census Bureau data. As part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) committed about $6.8 billion for schools and libraries to narrow the digital divide. As of the third and final funding window (fo

$247 Million in Florida Broadband Awardees Revealed: Cox, Comcast, Conexon Are the Big Winners

Cox Communications was the biggest winner in Florida broadband funding, and will get over $80 million for 11 projects. Fellow cable provider Comcast was the second biggest winner and will take home over $60 million for 34 projects, followed by Conexon, which will receive about $40 million. Other companies winning funding include Charter Communications, AT&T, CenturyLink, Suwanee Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC), Consolidated, TDS, IBT, and Myakka. The Florida broadband awards were made through the state’s Broadband Infrastructure Program, in which $247 million was funded through the f

What Progress Has Been Made in Closing the K-12 Digital Divide?

According to a report in February from the policy research firm Public Policy Associates, 2.1 million more children had broadband access in 2021 than 2019, following efforts at the local, state and federal levels to narrow the digital divide for online education during COVID-19 school closures.

Treasury Department Announces Approval of Federal Funds to Connect 20,000 Oklahoma Homes and Businesses

The Department of the Treasury approved $167.7 million for high-speed internet projects in Oklahoma under the American Rescue Plan Act's (ARPA) Capital Projects Fund (CPF), which the state estimates will connect approximately 20,000 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet. Oklahoma is approved to receive funds for broadband infrastructure projects.

UNESCO: Dependence on Tech Caused ‘Staggering’ Education Inequality

In early 2020, as the coronavirus spread, schools around the world abruptly halted in-person education. To many governments and parents, moving classes online seemed the obvious stopgap solution. In the United States, school districts scrambled to secure digital devices for students. Almost overnight, videoconferencing software like Zoom became the main platform teachers used to deliver real-time instruction to students at home.

FCC announces $7 million in a new funding round through the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program

The Federal Communications Commission committed nearly $7 million in a new funding round through the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) Program, which provides digital tools and services to support students in communities across the country. The funding commitment supports applications from the third application window, benefitting approximately 50,000 students nationwide, including students in California, Colorado, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

FCC commits $46 million in a new funding round through the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program

The Federal Communications Commission committed $46.3 million in a new funding round through the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program, which provides digital tools and services to support students in communities across the country. The funding supports applications from the third application window, benefitting approximately 125,000 students nationwide, including students in Arizona, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oregon, and Washington. The funding will support approximately 250 schools and school districts, 13 libraries and library systems, and 2 consortia.