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.

Making a Down Payment on Affordable, Reliable, High-Speed Internet for All

The fiber broadband industry is experiencing a historic moment.

Massachusetts broadband chief: Infrastructure and equity go hand in hand

Massachusetts’ is looking at the bigger picture, not just network rollouts. Although Massachusetts already has around 99 percent broadband coverage (based on statistics from the Federal Communications Commission’s national broadband map), there’s still an adoption gap. So, Massachusetts is trying to look at broadband “holistically,” infrastructure as well as “all the other elements that are needed” to make sure people “can really take advantage of the access to the service.” In November 2023, the Massachusetts Broadband Institute launched the Gap Networks Grant Program, a new $145 million g

FloridaCommerce Announces More Than $13 Million Available in Broadband Grant Funding to Equip Communities with Digital Devices

FloridaCommerce announced that more than $13 million in broadband grant funding is available through the Capital Projects Fund Digital Connectivity Technology Program to connect communities with digital devices. The program connects communities in need of broadband Internet access with funds for devices and equipment for digital workforce, education, and healthcare opportunities — like applying for a job, securing a degree, and attending a telehealth appointment.

Governor Polis and Colorado Broadband Office Announce Unprecedented Funding for Broadband through Advance Colorado Broadband Grant Program

Governor Jared Polis (D-CO) announced the first of multiple investments using stimulus funding from the US Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF) program. The Polis administration will use $113 million from CPF to make major, long-term improvements, including expanding the state’s broadband infrastructure and connecting Colorado homes without internet access. CPF will connect nearly 19,000 homes and businesses across all of Colorado with these funds.

Missouri Awards More Than $7.9 Million in ARPA Funding to Expand Cellular Service Statewide

The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) awarded a total of more than $7.9 million through the second round of the Cell Towers Grant Program. Grants will be awarded to 14 projects to construct new towers that provide quality cellular service and greater 911 connectivity to high-cost areas.

Jails are embracing video-only visits, but some experts say screens aren't enough

The holidays are all about trying to spend time with family—a hard thing to do when a family member is behind bars. And it's even harder if that person is held in a local jail, where there's been a growing trend away from in-person visits. "There's no more eye-to-eye, face-to-face visitation," says Maj. David McFadyen, the head of administrative operations for the sheriff's office in North Carolina's Craven County. Since the pandemic, the county jail has switched to a remote video system for family visits. It's not free; families pay the video service contractor $8 per 20 minutes. But Maj.

Baltimore (MD) introduces free public Wi-Fi network

Mayor Brandon Scott (D-Baltimore) announced FreeBmoreWiFi, a free, public WiFi network in the City of Baltimore, which will be implemented by the Office of Broadband and Digital Equity and funded by American Rescue Plan Act funds. The first locations that will be getting this free WiFi are Middle Branch Fitness and Wellness and the Solo Gibbs Recreation Center. The City aims to have the network up at all of Baltimore City's recreation centers by the end of 2024, with future expansion expected. "FreeBmoreWiFi is about more than internet access," says Baltimore City IT Director Todd Carter.

​South Carolina Invests $112.3 Million to Connect 16,000+ Homes

The South Carolina Broadband Office (SCBBO) is pleased to announce 17 newly funded projects through its American Rescue Plan Act’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF 1.0) grant program. For this round of investments, the SCBBO committed $112,303,273 to eight Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that will connect over 16,000 locations statewide. The total investment for this round of broadband expansion, which includes ISP contribution, is estimated to be $162,141,901.

Wyoming Makes Historic Investment to Expand High-Speed Internet Access

Wyoming has recommended funding 32 applications totaling $70.5 million in federal funds to expand broadband to more than 11,000 locations across the state that do not currently have access to high-speed internet. Governor Gordon designated $70 million of American Rescue Plan Act/Capital Projects funding for broadband infrastructure improvements across the state to ensure Wyomingites have the ability to telework, learn from home, and access telemedicine. The Wyoming Business Council Broadband Office is the administrator of the funds.