San Francisco Expands Free Jail Communications by Adding Tablet Services

San Francisco (CA) has offered jail tablets and their content at no cost to incarcerated people, part of a wave of institutions starting to decouple carceral communications from a profit motive. The free tablet program was introduced in May of 2023, a logical follow-up to San Francisco making jail phone calls free in 2020, the first county in the country to do so and the second city after New York. Before 2023, the San Francisco jails had never implemented any tablet program for all inmates.

National Digital Inclusion Alliance Recognizes Record-Setting 47 Digital Inclusion Trailblazers

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) named 47 communities as 2023 Digital Inclusion Trailblazers, recognizing the efforts of local governments to close the digital divide. These communities span 23 states, and demonstrate the important role municipal, county, and regional governments have in digital inclusion. NDIA launched a valuable resource with an open collection of 591 resources and documents from all of the 2023 Trailblazer awardees.

Glo Fiber Announces Expansion of its Fiber Network to City of Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Glo Fiber, powered by Shenandoah Telecommunications Company (Shentel), reached a partnership with municipal officials to deploy next-generation fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband services to the City of Lancaster (PA). Glo Fiber will utilize portions of the city’s extensive existing fiber network and provide key fiber assets to the City for Smart City uses. Engineering work is currently underway, and construction is slated to begin in mid-2024 and last approximately 18 months.

How to Remedy Post-COVID-19 Pandemic Setbacks in Bridging the Digital Divide

How Congress, the federal Executive Branch, state and local governments, and carriers can forestall likely, measurable declines in broadband geographical penetration and subscription rates achieved during the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, a look at the reforms needed to make ongoing universal service subsidy programs sustainable and more effective in achieving additional progress in bridging the Digital Divide as emergency grant programs wind down.

Broadband expansion essential for rural East Texas businesses

The future for rural areas without internet access could be bleak, said Simone of GrantWorks. If an area lacks the internet connectivity businesses and employees need for work and life, they won’t stay there. Communities that do invest in broadband, however, could grow. That's why the East Texas Council of Governments is planning for broadband expansion in the region.

A Different Kind of Broadband Investor: Partners Aim to Provide BEAD Matching Funds

Two non-traditional investors are partnering to provide Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) matching funds and to directly invest in broadband for communities that do not win government grants. One of the entities is Connect Humanity, a non-profit fund focused on digital equity.

Biden-Harris Administration Launches First Tech Hubs Funding Opportunity

The Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration launched the Regional Technology and Innovation Hubs (Tech Hubs) competition. This program will create tech hubs in regions across the country by bringing together industry, higher education institutions, state and local governments, economic development organizations, and labor and workforce partners to supercharge ecosystems of innovation for technologies that are essential to our economic and national security.

Southern Vermont CUD fiber build will be completed in 2023

The Southern Vermont Communications Union District’s rollout of high-speed fiberoptic cable to Bennington County is entering its second year—and by fall 2023, the work will be done. Consolidated Communications, the firm contracted by the Southern Vermont CUD, ran ahead of schedule stringing cable in Bennington and Shaftsbury in 2022, and has started work in Manchester. A job that was anticipated to take as long as five years in the CUD’s 14 towns is now expected to be completed in a matter of months. How did that happen, when other CUDs had a head start on the Southern Vermont CUD?

Kentucky grapples with broadband mapping, terrain hurdles

Kentucky, which only established its broadband office in 2022, is putting in some hard, and in some cases unique, work to enhance internet access and prepare for the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. Meghan Sandfoss, executive director for Kentucky’s Office of Broadband Development, delved into some of the challenges the state has encountered.