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.

FCC Announces Over $450,000 in Emergency Connectivity Funding

The Federal Communications Commission committed over $450,000 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. This funding commitment supports applications from the third application window, connecting approximately 1,000 students. Launched in 2021, the Emergency Connectivity Program has provided schools and libraries three different “application windows” to apply for support.

Department of the Treasury Announces New Federal Funds to Help Close the Digital Divide in Wisconsin

The Department of the Treasury announced the approval of $140 million in federal funds for Wi-Fi and computers and improving multi-purpose community facilities in Wisconsin under the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF). Wisconsin’s awards include two funding streams: $33 million for digital connectivity technology projects, and $107 million for multi-purpose community facility projects.

Ottawa County (MI) Leverages $25 Million for Countywide Internet Coverage

In a strong step forward for Ottawa County's Broadband Strategy, the County Board of Commissioners voted to finalize Public-Private Partnerships with 123Net and Tilson Infrastructure.

Maine Connectivity Authority Awards More Than $36 Million To Expand Internet Access

The Maine Connectivity Authority (MCA) has awarded more than $36.6 million in grants to expand affordable, reliable, high-speed internet service to more than 24,000 homes and businesses in 45 communities across the state. The grants are part of the agency’s All-In programming, funded through the American Rescue Plan and designed to provide a mixture of solutions to address the expansion of last mile infrastructure for high-speed internet. MCA is announcing five Connect the Ready: Cohort 2 grant awards totaling $20.7 million.

Governor Kathy Hochul (D-NY) Announces $100 Million in Federal Funding Now Available for High-speed Broadband Infrastructure Through Affordable Housing Connectivity Program

Governor Kathy Hochul (D-NY) announced that applications are now open for the $100 million Affordable Housing Connectivity Program, a partnership led by Empire State Development’s ConnectALL Office in consultation with New York State Homes and Community Renewal to design and install broadband infrastructure at 100,000 affordable housing units across New York State.

How Have California School Districts Used the Emergency Connectivity Fund?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is preparing to close out its Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), which Congress authorized in 2021 to facilitate remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

2023 Report on School Connectivity

The past decade has been marked by unprecendented challenges and opportunites for digital transformation in K-12 education. Today, the broadband landscape continues to thrive for education and the impact is inspiring. 74 percent of all districts are now meeting or exceeding the Federal Communications Commission’s recommended bandwidth goal of 1 Megabit per second per student, an increase of 57.4 percent since 2020. Prices continue to decrease, making upgrades more affordable.

Verizon’s TracFone to pay $23.5 million in Lifeline, Emergency Broadband Benefit settlement

Verizon’s TracFone Wireless subsidiary reached a settlement with the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Enforcement Bureau to resolve an investigation into whether the company violated the agency’s Lifeline and Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program rules.  According to the FCC, TracFone’s internal systems: 1) improperly considered a subscriber’s receipt of an inbound text message to constitute qualifying Lifeline usage and 2) improperly claimed support for a group of customers who were enrolled jointly in both the Lifeline and EBB programs, but did not use one of the services in

New York library to offer Internet through fixed wireless and fiber

The New York Public Library (NYPL) is looking to offer Internet services to low-income New Yorkers through a cutting-edge mix of fixed wireless access (FWA) and fiber. Garfield Swaby, VP of IT for NYPL, sees the organization as potentially offering a layer of telecommunications services alongside the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides subsidies to low-income Americans to help them pay for telecommunications services. The COVID-19 pandemic, and its resulting shutdowns across New York City, sparked the project.

North Carolina Broadband Division Publishes Guidance for Broadband Pole Replacement Program

Final guidance for North Carolina's Broadband Pole Replacement Program as part of ongoing efforts to connect more North Carolinians to affordable, reliable high-speed internet. This program, established with $100 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, will reimburse high-speed internet service providers for eligible pole replacement costs in connection with qualified projects.