broadband

A look at the state-level focus on broadband

While the new administration is rolling out a new infrastructure proposal that includes $100 billion over an 8-year period for greater broadband coverage and affordability, the states have been busy in 2021 with their own broadband proposals. Governors across the country are responding to the digital divide that became even more obvious during the pandemic as students struggled to access online learning, individuals turned to the internet for telehealth appointments, and much of the workforce pivoted to remote work arrangements.

Innovation and new opportunity front and center in the American Jobs Plan

As noted in our separate overview, the 25-page American Jobs Plan provides goals, highlights and proposals, but also raises questions about how proposals would be implemented and even exactly how much money would be spent.

Public funding alone not enough to expand rural broadband

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimates that nearly one-fourth of the rural population —14.5 million people — lack access to broadband services. In tribal areas, nearly one-third of the population lacks access. Even in areas where broadband is available, approximately 100 million Americans still do not subscribe to services.

Higher education, lower taxes in governors’ plans for growth

Several more State of the State addresses were delivered already this month, leaving just a few states yet to go and the pandemic and recovery from the pandemic, not surprisingly, continue to feature heavily in governors’ plans. Energy opportunities, tax cuts, broadband and shifts in the model for higher education are in play in this week’s review of addresses from California, Florida, New Hampshire and Wyoming.

Workforce, broadband, rural investments at play in governors’ plans for economic development

As governors continue to roll out their State-of-the State addresses in the month of February, we continue to see a heavy focus on recovering from the pandemic. Given most state’s fiscal condition, governors have been generally hesitant to roll out new initiatives during this time, although broadband continues to receive attention, especially with the renewed attention surrounding its importance during the pandemic.

Newest COVID relief package provides some aid; short on true relief for states

The relief bill passed last night falls short of assisting states that face strains on their budgets and increasing demand for assistance from their constituents. However, the bill does provide $900 billion for the first broad COVID-19 relief package to pass since the CARES Act was signed into law on March 27th. The major items in this legislation are the extension of unemployment insurance benefits, direct payments to individuals, and a new round of loans through a modified Paycheck Protection Program.

FCC awards over $9 billion to boost rural broadband access

Over 5.2 million homes and businesses are now planned to receive broadband internet access through the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

NGA releases infrastructure initiative report two months early

The product of a year-long initiative focused on addressing America’s crumbling infrastructure has been released two months early in an effort to help speed the economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative, called Infrastructure: Foundation for Success, identifies four key federal priorities that should be addressed if America is to rebuild its infrastructure.

Exactly 21 years after first Digest story, GAO and FCC still talking about digital divide

Exactly 21 years after the SSTI Weekly Digest ran its first story on the digital divide, a recent report by the Government Accountability Office confirms what inestimable studies before it have reported: access to broadband has expanded, but significant shortcomings in broadband still exist. Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission has issued new rules to improve collection and mapping of broadband availability. The commission is also seeking comments on proposals to ensure the accuracy of the new broadband coverage maps.

Maine voters to decide $15M bond issue for broadband funding

Voters in Maine will consider a high-speed internet infrastructure bond issue on the July 14 ballot. The legislatively-referred measure would authorize $15 million in general obligation bonds for the Connect ME Authority to provide funding for high-speed internet infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas. The bond revenue would be used to match an estimated $30 million in federal, private, local and other funds.

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