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.

Gov. Justice announces preliminary approvals for West Virginia Broadband Investment Plan, LEAD, and MBPS programs

Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) announced the preliminary approval of more than $32 million under two programs of the West Virginia Broadband Investment Plan. This announcement includes applications received under the programs Line Extension Advancement and Development (LEAD) and Major Broadband Project Strategies (MBPS). LEAD and MBPS projects announced through this application cycle will provide broadband connectivity to more than 6,000 targeted locations with the deployment of approximately 793 miles of new infrastructure.

9,000 houses, 535 businesses: Huge Louisiana high-speed internet project gets underway

Louisiana's effort to expand broadband access in rural areas advanced with the groundbreaking of the state's biggest high-speed internet project yet. The project will bring cable internet to 9,140 households and 535 small businesses in Avoyelles Parish—the largest investment to date under the state's Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities program, dubbed GUMBO. Set for complet

North Dakota Information Technology Awards Additional Capital Project Fund Applications for Broadband Infrastructure

North Dakota Information Technology (NDIT) has completed the Capital Project Fund (CPF) grant program award process, resulting in eleven grants to seven service providers totaling more than $37 million. Once completed, the projects will provide more than 2,100 homes and businesses with Fiber to the Premise (FTTP). The infrastructure will deliver service that reliably meets or exceeds symmetrical speeds of 100Mbps. Grants awarded and coverage area include: 

North Carolina Awards Nearly $80 Million to Give More North Carolinians High-Speed Internet Access, Gov. Cooper Announces

Across North Carolina, 25,825 households and 862 businesses in 33 counties will get high-speed internet thanks to nearly $80 million in additional Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) grants, Governor Roy Cooper (D-NC) announced. These latest grant awards add to the more than $269 million total awarded in 2022 to connect 117,405 households and businesses. As part of the federally-funded GREAT grant eligibility requirements, all internet service provider applicants must participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

Tennessee Gets Set to Dish Out $185M for Rural Broadband Deployments

The state of Tennessee will begin accepting applications in September 2023 for $185 million in grant funding for broadband deployments in unserved and underserved areas.

FOCUS Broadband Completes Two GREAT Grants in Duplin County (NC)

FOCUS Broadband has completed work to bring fiber optic high-speed internet to rural communities near Magnolia, Rose Hill, and Teachey (NC). These projects were made possible through two grants totaling more than $2.5 million dollars awarded in 2020 through North Carolina's Growing Rural Economies through Access to Technology (GREAT) Grant Program as well as the Special Supplementary Round of the GREAT Grant Program. FOCUS Broadband contributed more than $1 million dollars in matching funds to bring service to these rural areas in Duplin County.

Verizon Executive Details Pennsylvania Funding Win, Company Also Gets Virginia Money

Verizon won broadband funding from two Pennsylvania counties recently. Verizon Vice President of Business Operations for Wireline Networks Doug Sullivan offered details about the wins, which are for areas where the company has begun deploying its Fios fiber broadband service. The Pennsylvania awards were for Washington and Westmoreland counties.

Washington County (ME) will help launch National Digital Navigators Corps

Susan Corbett, the founder of Maine’s National Digital Equity Center (NDEC), lives in one of America’s most remote rural regions. The population density is under 10 people per square mile. She knows first-hand how fast her community can tumble without a safety net. When the pandemic’s shelter-in-place order went into effect in 2020, Corbett and her team witnessed the severe isolation and loneliness of many elderly people in her community. The Digital Equity Center responded quickly.

FCC Announces Over $29 Million in Emergency Connectivity Funding

The Federal Communications Commission committed nearly $29 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 commitment supports applications from the third application window, benefitting approximately 65,000 students nationwide, including students in California, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota.

RDOF areas are already 30% Served by broadband. That's a good thing.

At the time the Federal Communications Commission Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) program winners were announced, $9.23 billion was committed over 10-years to cover over 5 million Unserved locations.