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.

Two States Tally Up Broadband Funding Applications: Available Budget Comes Up Short

Add California and Wisconsin to the growing list of states whose broadband funding programs have received applications seeking considerably more funding than the program has available. California’s Federal Funding Account received 484 applications requesting $4.6 billion, which is more than double the $2 billion budgeted for the program. Awards are used to fund last mile infrastructure projects.

70% of Colquitt County (GA) to Be ‘Fiber Ready’ in 2024

Fiber internet provider Kinetic plans to make 70% of Colquitt County (GA), or more than 17,000 homes and businesses, “fiber ready” in 2024 in a $32.5 million public-private partnership. Some 40% of the county, or more than 9,700 homes and businesses, including in county seat Moultrie, are already eligible for Kinetic’s fiber broadband, which provides internet speeds of up to 8 gigabits per second.

Promise Of High-Speed Fiber-Optic Network For Cape Cod Resurfaces

Verizon is looking to install a high-speed, fiber-optic network on Cape Cod, focusing first on unspecified, underserved areas. Ellen Cummings, Verizon’s regional director of state and governmental affairs, made the announcement at a meeting hosted by the Cape Cod Technology Council. Cummings was asking for the council’s support in applying for a portion of millions in federal funds to help pay for the project.

‘We’re Cut Off’: Rural Farmers Are Desperate For Broadband Internet

How can the Farm Bill help close the digital divide in rural America? There are a few areas that we could start with, and Sascha Meinrath, the Palmer Chair in telecommunications at Penn State University, says the first one won’t cost the government a dime. “The Farm Bill could include a mandate that says anytime a provider reports to a federal agency that they provide service at an address, they must provide that service within 30 days or get fined $10,000 a day until they do,” says Meinrath. In other words, force the ISPs to show verification that they are doing what they claim.

Henderson County (TX) Commissioners approve broadband service enhancements

Henderson County (TX) Commissioners approved an agreement with Brightspeed LLC to enhance broadband services within the county. The project will combine $2.3 million in American Rescue Plan Act State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds with other state money to connect all of Henderson County to high-speed broadband internet when the projects are completed. Ultimately, the projects are expected to total $8 million and combine federal and state money. Brightspeed will deliver 114.7 miles of fiber and connect nearly 5,000 locations within Henderson County.

North Carolina State Office of Digital Equity and Literacy Launches Digital Champion Grant Program

Governor Roy Cooper (D-NC) launched North Carolina’s Digital Champion Grant program, which will help North Carolinians afford high-speed internet, obtain digital devices, and access digital literacy resources.

Second Round of ROBIN Grant Recommendations

The Michigan High-Speed Internet Office MIHI announced its second round of recommendations for the Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) grant program, which will provide $238 million in federal funding through the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund to support the deployment of high-speed internet to approximately 100,000 unserved locations throughout the state. Not all second round grant recommendations are expected to be funded or receive their full funding pending the outcome of a 45-day comment and objection window, where anyone may file a comment or object

With internet subsidies drying up, Eastern Washington broadband users call on Congress to replenish funds

Congress established the Affordable Connectivity Program in November 2021 as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, providing $14.2 billion to expand an emergency broadband program that began in 2021. But those funds are running out. On Oct.

Nebraska Public Service Commission Opens Second Round of CPF Grants

The Nebraska Public Service Commission approved an Order (CPF-2) opening a second round of Capital Projects Fund (CPF) grants to bring broadband to unserved and unserved areas of the state.The new grant cycle will be used to award $24.3 million in remaining CPF funds for projects falling within the 3rd Congressional District (which encompasses the state's western three-

From Detours to Destinations

There are so many exciting things happening in the digital equity space. However, as the title of my talk foreshadows—the road to digital equity is not always straight and it’s often bumpy. Over the past 3 and a half years especially, we have made great gains, only to suffer setbacks. And while I’m optimistic about the future, we are now in a critical moment in the effort to get everyone connected to affordable and robust broadband.