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.

We need a permanent solution for universal broadband access

In August 2020, during the heart of the covid-19 pandemic when many schools were closed, social media and news outlets were awash with a picture of two grade school students sitting outside of a Taco Bell, attempting to do their schoolwork.

Wisconsin Public Service Commission Announces Application Period for Digital Connectivity and Navigators Program

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) is now accepting grant applications for the Digital Connectivity and Navigators Program. This program aims to improve internet connectivity in the state by providing access to devices, technology, and digital navigators. Under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the US Department of the Treasury awarded Wisconsin $33 million through the Capital Projects Fund (CPF) to administer this program.

End of internet subsidies for low-income households threatens access to telehealth

The importance of high-speed internet was seared into the American psyche by scenes of children sitting in parking lots and outside fast-food restaurants to attend school online during the COVID-19 pandemic. During that same period, health care providers and patients like Cindy Westman say being connected also became a vital part of today’s health care delivery system. Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) participant Westman said her internet connection has become so important to her access to health care she would sell “anything that I own” to stay connected.

Applications Open for Oregon's $157 Million Broadband Deployment Program

The Oregon Broadband Office is accepting applications for grant awards for the Broadband Deployment Program (BDP).

Colorado Broadband Office Announces Capital Projects Funding

The Colorado Broadband Office announced additional grants using stimulus funding from the US Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF) program. As a result of the Advance-CPF Challenge Process, some of the previously awarded projects were reduced in size, leading to additional availability of funding. Subsequently, five new projects were awarded. The five new projects are:

The Municipal Broadband Solution

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) has proven to be a digital lifeline for its 23 million beneficiaries. However, although lawmakers have known for over a year that the fund would be bankrupt by this spring, GOP congressional leaders have not budged on even bipartisan attempts to save the ACP, prompting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to announce in January the wind down the popular program. It’s a major setback for the “Internet for All” effort,

Governor Evers, PSC Announce Over 410,000 Wisconsin Homes and Businesses to See New or Improved High-Speed Internet Due to Evers Administration Efforts Since 2019

Governor Tony Evers (D-WI), together with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC), announced the award of $43.2 million in grants funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to expand access to broadband across the state. The 30 projects awarded funding will expand high-speed internet access to approximately 16,000 residential and business locations in the state.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Funding to Expand High Speed Internet in New Mexico Tribal Communities as Part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda

The Biden-Harris Administration announced the approval of $10 million for multi-purpose facilities in Tribal communities under the US Department of the Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF), part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.

Consolidated Slated for Broadband Buildout in NH Community with Funding From Novel State Program

Consolidated Communications’ latest public-private broadband partnership news is a bit different from some of the other public-private partnerships we’ve seen since federal legislators began making funding available for broadband buildouts during the COVID pandemic. The deal, pending completion of a challenge process, involves the town of Francestown, New Hampshire and funding from the state’s Broadband Matching Grant Initiative (BMGI). That program provides matching funds for projects that otherwise would be too costly for the network operator to undertake.

$22 Million Retrofit Program to Expand High-Speed Internet Access in Affordable Housing Statewide

The Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) at MassTech announced the launch of the Residential Internet Retrofit Program, a $22 million statewide initiative to equip public and affordable housing units across the state with high-speed internet for current and future residents.