Jun 05 2023

Local Governments Continue to Prioritize Broadband Expansion

Two counties in California and Pennsylvania recently joined other local governments in the effort to make high-speed internet accessible to all.

Broadband expansion remains a priority for state and local governments. Reports indicate that both Placer County, Calif., and Crawford County, Pa., are set to bolster their broadband networks.

According to Placer County, its Board of Supervisors approved $31 million in funding to bring broadband to new neighborhoods, expanding to almost 11,000 new homes. It isn’t the only time the county’s board took strides to improve internet accessibility: In 2021, the board approved $2.2 million in funding to bring fiber-optic internet to 1,500 homes.

Meanwhile, The Meadville Tribune reports that Crawford County commissioners are set to ratify a contract to expand broadband service to 2,000 homes in underserved areas using funds from its American Rescue Plan Act allocation. Expansion in Crawford County is expected to take place over the next three years.

The two counties are just the latest in a list of many governments at the state and local level who have made efforts to offer affordable, high-speed internet to their constituents. Many agencies consider reliable internet as essential as any other utility.

As StateTech previously reported, “Most state governments have recognized that the internet is no longer a luxury but a core component of life in a digital world. Forty-three states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico all have embraced broadband expansion and upgrades.”

Click on the banner below to learn about management solutions by becoming an Insider.

Improving Digital Equity with Broadband Expansion

For many agencies, broadband expansion is essential to closing the digital divide and ensuring that the underserved aren’t left behind without reliable internet. The pandemic only emphasized what the National Association of State Chief Information Officers calls the “Broadband Imperative” to bring high-speed internet to every home at a reasonable price.

Those who had internet access during the 2020 pandemic shutdowns could still work from home, attend school remotely and conduct other essential business without exposing themselves to COVID-19, while those without quality internet access didn't have those options.

That’s why Placer and Crawford counties aren’t alone on this front. In May, Kansas governor Laura Kelly launched Lasting Infrastructure and Network Connectivity, a $30 million program to make internet service faster, cheaper and more accessible. Later that month, the state announced the launch of a plan to expand broadband infrastructure, asking citizens to participate in a broadband speed test to help the state gather data to inform next steps.

In late May, it was announced at a New Mexico broadband summit that the state would get between $100 million and $700 million in funding to bring internet access to underserved communities, particularly rural and tribal communities,  and catch up to federal broadband standards. Officials at the summit suggested that government agencies in New Mexico try professional development to accelerate broadband expansion by making sure their workers can handle implementation.

In Texas, a staggering 7 million residents still don’t have internet access, but the state is closer to closing that digital divide. On May 28, Texas made history with its biggest broadband investment ever of $1.5 billion. The bill is on its way to Gov. Greg Abbott after clearing both chambers of the Texas legislature.

UP NEXT: How do DMZ networks help state and local governments?

Dmitry Kovalchuk/Getty Images

Become an Insider

Unlock white papers, personalized recommendations and other premium content for an in-depth look at evolving IT