U.S. Governors taking steps to connect their residents
Bowling Green, Kentucky (February 2, 2023) –This past year was a landmark for closing the Digital Divide across the United States. On December 31, 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). According to FCC.gov, this program will serve as a “$14.2 billion successor program to the Emergency Broadband Benefit, which helped almost 9 million afford internet access during the pandemic.”
While ACP funding is available in states and territories across the United States, some states are allocating additional dollars toward getting communities connected. Here are a few of the governors who are working to close the Digital Divide in their states.
Gov. Mike Parsons – Missouri
Strides are being made in the heartland to connect rural communities including those in the state of Missouri.
“Last year, we made one of the largest investments in broadband expansion across our state. Thanks to our efforts, nearly 70,000 underserved homes and businesses now have broadband,” said Gov. Mike Parsons. “But we know we can’t stop now. That is why we are investing an additional $250 million to do even more. If we can put electricity in every home, we can do the same with broadband today. We are not done until every home, every school, every business, and every farm has access to quality internet.”
Gov. Joe Lombardo – Nevada
Helping to connect those who live in the Southwest United States, Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo announced additional funding.
“It has been said that the soul of Nevada can be found in the people and places that make up our rural counties,” said Gov. Joe Lombardo. “Staying connected to towns like Carlin and Caliente, Gabbs and Gerlach, and Wells and Wadsworth is a top priority of my administration. To make this a reality, I am very proud to announce tonight that we will be making a $400 million investment in broadband to accelerate statewide connectivity.”
Gov. Andy Beshear – Kentucky
Kentucky is set to receive over $182 million in federal money to fund projects that would provide reliable broadband access to areas of the state that lack high-speed internet. The money will go toward infrastructure projects that will ultimately connect an estimated 45,000 homes across the state, said Gov. Andy Beshear, who announced the funding in a press call along with federal officials from the U.S. Treasury.
“A lot of these areas are unserved right now,” Beshear said. “And they need this technology to take advantage of all the great opportunities we have coming our way. Expanding access to reliable, fast internet is going to improve the lives of Kentucky families, and it’s going to support our future economic growth.”
Gov. Jim Pillen – Nebraska
Another rural center that intends to increase connection this year, is Nebraska. Governor Jim Pillen announced that additional broadband funding would be included in his 2023 budget.
"Infrastructure needs for Nebraska are more important than ever before. To grow Nebraska, we must address roads and broadband. My budget includes $100 Million dollars to leverage an additional $400 Million in federal funds to improve our bridges and roads," Pillen said. "Our team has also created the Nebraska Broadband Office. We have to get broadband across Nebraska completed. It will be the sole focus of the Nebraska Broadband Office."
Gov. Kay Ivey – Alabama
Alabama’s efforts to extend access to broadband service to unserved areas received a boost with the U.S. Treasury Department’s approval of the state’s plan for the Capital Projects Fund, making $191.8 million available for broadband expansion, Gov. Kay Ivey announced.
“Access to broadband is a necessity in today’s world, and I continue to make it a priority that our state has the full ability to be connected to high-speed internet,” said Ivey. “I often say that broadband expansion is a journey, not a short trip. These funds will enable us to take several more strides in that journey toward full access, no matter where you live in Alabama.”
Gov. Tony Evers – Wisconsin
Gov. Tony Evers, together with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC), announced the state will receive $5,952,197 to plan for the deployment and adoption of affordable, equitable, and reliable high-speed internet throughout the state. This investment, awarded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), is part of the Internet for All initiative under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, signed into law by President Biden in 2021.
“The investments I’m proud to announce today represent the start of a once-in-a-generation opportunity for Wisconsin and will help us achieve our mission to expand broadband statewide,” said Evers. “Since becoming governor, we’ve made historic progress to connect more than 387,000 homes and businesses to reliable, high-speed internet. These new investments will help bolster our ongoing work and give local communities the support needed to build critical broadband infrastructure and ensure high-speed internet access for all.”
Gov. Laura Kelly – Kansas
Gov. Laura Kelly announced that $23.1 million will be awarded to six service providers to bring high-speed broadband service to nearly 4,200 homes, businesses, schools, health care facilities, and other institutions in unserved and rural areas of the state. This is the second of three rounds of awards from the Kansas Capital Project Funds (CPF) Grant Program.
“By connecting nearly 4,200 more Kansas homes, businesses, and schools to high-speed internet, we’re continuing to deliver on our goal of giving every Kansan a connection to the world,” said Kelly. “This funding knocks down a barrier for Kansans looking to participate in the digital economy, access telemedicine, and take advantage of online education.”
Gov. Brian Kemp – Georgia
Gov. Brian Kemp announced over $234 million in 29 preliminary grant awards for broadband internet expansion through the Capital Projects Fund Grant Program. These awards will improve connectivity for communities, households, businesses, and anchor institutions in 28 Georgia counties. When combined with significant capital matches from the awardees, almost $455 million will be invested to serve over 76,000 locations in communities with some of the greatest need for high-speed internet access.
"Georgia is again leading the nation in identifying where the Digital Divide is the deepest and acting on that knowledge to improve service for hardworking people all the way from Seminole County to Gordon County and beyond," said Kemp. "High-speed internet access is critical for both academic and economic opportunities, as well as overall quality of life. These projects announced today will go a long way to helping Georgians in some of the most unserved and underserved parts of the state become better connected.”
We at Connected Nation are encouraged to see bold leaders taking vital steps toward closing the Digital Divide. We will continue to support these and other efforts in 2023 and beyond.