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.

K–12 Schools Implement Connectivity Solutions to Narrow the Homework Gap

More than two and half years into a global pandemic, school districts continue to struggle with high-speed Wi-Fi and the inequities that result when students and families can’t get consistent and reliable access to essential learning.

Treasury approves Delaware’s plan to invest $40.3 million in nine libraries to provide communities with public access to the internet

The US Department of the Treasury approved Delaware’s plan to invest $40.3 million of Capital Projects Fund funding in nine libraries to provide communities with public access to the internet and expanded resources. Delaware’s plan states that each of the library projects will provide access to highspeed internet for community members who may lack access in their homes. Capital Projects Fund dollars will be used to construct new or expand existing libraries in Delaware to meet the needs of identified communities.

FCC Extends Deadlines for the Covid-19 Telehealth Program Round 2

The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau extends two deadlines for Round 2 of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program (COVID-19.

FCC Announces $77 Million In Emergency Connectivity Funding

The Federal Communications Commission committed over $77 million in two new funding rounds through the Emergency Connectivity Program, helping to close the Homework Gap. These latest funding rounds are part of an ongoing support from the program, which launched in 2021 and has provided schools and libraries three different “application windows,” for schools and libraries to apply for support.

Kansas Launches Capital Project Fund Broadband Infrastructure Program

The Capital Project Fund program was developed to bring broadband infrastructure that will deliver speeds that meet or exceed symmetrical speeds of 100 Mbps to unserved areas across Kansas.  All locations within the census blocks being served and funded through this program will be required to adhere to minimum speeds listed above.  Fiber-optic infrastructure projects that focus on achieving last-mile connections will be prioritized.

Gov. Edwards Announces a Major Federal Investment in Broadband Expansion Statewide and New Digital Literacy Pilot Programs

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA) announced a $130 million investment from the American Rescue Plan to bring more affordable and accessible internet to more than 66,000 households and small businesses through Internet Service Providers in 50 parishes. Applications for the first phase of the grant were submitted through Louisiana’s broadband grant program called Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO). The total investment from the American Rescue Plan is $176 million, out of which $130 million is being used for this first phase.

Yellowstone Fiber looks to BEAD, ARPA to speed Montana broadband build

Yellowstone Fiber already has $65 million in private funding in hand to build an open access network in Montana, but is now seeking to tap into millions more in federal funding to accelerate the pace of its rollout. Formerly known as Bozeman Fiber, the operator teamed with UTOPIA Fiber in late 2021 and announced plans to deliver fiber to more than 20,000 locations across the city of Bozeman, Montana. It subsequently rebranded as Yellowstone Fiber and kicked off construction in February 2022.

New Hampshire taps federal funds to expand broadband

New Hampshire is diverting millions of dollars in federal pandemic relief funds to expand broadband internet coverage to rural and underserved communities. A proposal approved by the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee on July 22 authorizes the state to spend $51.3 million to create the Broadband Connect Program. This initiative will provide taxpayer-funded incentives to internet service providers to expand infrastructure in communities that lack access to high-speed broadband service. The plan will require internet providers to bid on the contract, and Gov.

How the Capital Projects Fund Can Help Your State Close the Digital Divide

On July 14, the U.S. Department of the Treasury approved the plans of Kansas, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota to use Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund support to help close the digital divide. Combined with the approval of Louisiana's, New Hampshire's, Virginia's, and West Virginia's plans in June, Treasury has announced nearly $1 billion in support to connect nearly 250,000 locations in the eight states.

US Treasury Helps Accelerate Broadband Deployment in Kansas

People living in rural Kansas have been concerned about their lack of access to reliable broadband for over 20 years. As part of a second wave of Capital Projects Fund awards, Kansas will receive $83.5 million from the US Department of the Treasury to increase access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. According to BroadbandNow, 15 percent of households in Kansas have no access to the internet. Kansas ranks 35th among states in internet coverage, speed and availability.