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.

Signing on: Westmoreland's 'high priority areas' soon to get online

Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring to bring internet service to four high priority areas of Westmoreland County (PA). Westmoreland County commissioners have partnered with Verizon to bring broadband service to 400 locations in parts of Derry, Fairfield and Ligonier townships that currently have no service.

Brick by Brick: HBCUs Are Using the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program to Fortify the Communities They Serve

A look at how Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are using Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program funding to impact the students, faculty, staff, and residents in the communities that they serve. According to a 2021 report by McKinsey & Company, 82% of HBCUs are located in broadband deserts. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s funding for minority communities intends to elevate community partners and work toward closing deep-rooted digital divides.

Governor Walz Announces $53 Million to Expand Broadband to 8,900 Minnesota Homes and Businesses

Governor Tim Walz (D-MN) announced over $50 million in grants to expand broadband access to an estimated 8,900 homes and businesses throughout Minnesota. Twenty four broadband expansion projects will receive grants from the Department of Employment and Economic Development's (DEED) Office of Broadband Development, helping deploy new broadband infrastructure around Minnesota.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Tens of Millions of Dollars to Help Close the Digital Divide in Pennsylvania as Part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda

The Biden-Harris Administration announced the approval of $20 million for digital connectivity projects in Pennsylvania under the US Department of the Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF). The award will fund Pennsylvania’s Digital Access Opportunity Grant program, through which the commonwealth will partner with community anchor institutions (CAIs) to increase access to laptops, tablets, desktop computers, and Wi-Fi devices to individuals in Pennsylvan

Governor Ivey Announces Nearly $150 Million for Broadband Expansion, Impacting 48 Alabama Counties

Governor Kay Ivey (R-AL) announced the awarding of nearly $150 million to continue the expansion of high-speed internet service to unserved areas across Alabama.

New US Department of the Treasury Analysis Shows President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda is Driving Investment to Underserved Communities in Georgia

The Department of the Treasury released new analysis on the benefits of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda for Georgia.

FOCUS Broadband Completes Work on NCDIT GREAT Grant Project in Bladen County (NC)

FOCUS Broadband completed its Faster Bladen broadband project, making high-speed internet service available for over 700 residents and businesses living near Tar Heel and along portions of North Carolina Highway 701 between Clarkton and Elizabethtown. This project was made possible using $2.9 million in funds awarded to FOCUS Broadband in 2022 from the North Carolina Department of Information Technology’s (NCDIT) Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) Grant program.

Reps Markey, Van Hollen, and Meng Lead Colleagues in Letter of Support for FCC E-Rate Rulemaking

Sens Edward Markey (D-MA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep Grace Meng (D-NY), led 64 of their colleagues in a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel supporting the Commission’s proposal to expand the E-Rate program to allow schools and libraries to loan out Wi-Fi hotspots to students and educators.

California Aims $2 Billion at Students Hurt by Remote Learning to Settle Lawsuit

In the fall of 2020, around the height of the debate over pandemic school closures, a lawsuit in California made a serious claim: The state had failed its constitutional obligation to provide an equal education to lower-income, Black and Hispanic students, who had less access to online learning. State officials distributed more than 45,000 laptops and more than 73,000 other computing devices to students, according to court documents in the case.

Treasury Department Announces Approval of Federal Funds to Connect Tens of Thousands of Homes and Businesses in New York to Affordable, High-Speed Internet

The US Department of the Treasury announced the approval of more than $228 million for high-speed internet projects in New York under the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF), which the state estimates will connect tens of thousands of homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet.