Governor Lamont Announces Federal Broadband and Digital Equity Grant Awards
Funding Will Extend Access to Affordable, High-Speed Internet and Support a Statewide Plan to Broaden Technology Access, Affordability, and Use
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that the State of Connecticut is receiving approximately $5 million through two grant awards from the U.S. Department of Commerce to support the development of an extensive plan that will identify pathways to expand Connecticut residents’ access to affordable, high-speed internet and the skills to engage in today’s digital society.
The grants are part of the Biden-Harris administration’s Internet for All initiative. They include a Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) grant in the amount of $4.2 million that will be administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), and a Digital Equity grant in the amount of $736,568 that will be administered by the Commission for Educational Technology, part of the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services (DAS).
Recognizing that broadband access, synonymous with high-speed internet, has become an indispensable tool for participation in the economy, education, healthcare, and social relationships, Governor Lamont has made expanding access to high-speed internet one of his top priorities. In 2021, he signed into law Public Act 21-159, which calls for equitable access to broadband in the state and charged DEEP with administering grant programs, such as BEAD, that will support the deployment of broadband service.
The $5 million announced today is seed funding for what will be a total of $100 million anticipated to be delivered to Connecticut over the next five years for this purpose, to be administered by the DEEP Office of Telecommunications and Broadband. The office has worked with partner agencies over the past year to identify barriers to broadband access and has issued a report outlining the progress made to close the digital divide and how the state will expand those efforts utilizing this historic federal funding.
Governor Lamont said, “These awards will directly support the important work already underway in Connecticut to make sure every person in our state can get online and get ahead. Access to fast, reliable internet has become a requirement in modern life, and we are working hard to expand access so that no one gets left behind as we transition toward this increasingly digital future. Last year’s broadband bill and our Everybody Learns initiative helped position our state to take advantage of federal programs, such as the Digital Equity program and BEAD, and I am excited to see how these funds can help make a difference in the lives of Connecticut residents.”
In a joint statement, the members of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation said, “Access to affordable, high-speed internet is a critical component of academic, career, and civic life. We have made significant strides through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to close the gaps in internet access across Connecticut, and this will support the planning and implementation of those important investments. We are thrilled these plans are underway to ensure that every resident can access the digital tools and resources they need to succeed.”
DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said, “Broadband connectivity is essential to living in today’s digital world. These programs will provide lasting solutions for the communities they serve, enabling all those who live, learn, and work in the state to access the economic and social benefits of affordable, high-speed internet. DEEP is committed to a high level of community engagement throughout the lifetime of these programs.”
Kevin Pisacich, DEEP’s director of the Office of Telecommunications and Broadband, said, “The BEAD program enables us to make great strides toward Governor Lamont’s goal of universal access to high-speed broadband. The BEAD planning funds will enable us to build a roadmap and adopt strategies, goals, and measures to bridge the access gap once and for all.”
DAS Commissioner Michelle Gilman said, “Digital Equity ensures that all individuals and communities have the technology needed to fully participate in our society, democracy, and economy. We are thrilled to receive funding through the Digital Equity Program and look forward to the commission’s plan for Connecticut.”
Mark Raymond, Connecticut’s chief information officer and chair of the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology, said, “The Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology remains committed to the important work of championing technology use for learning and civic engagement.”
Doug Casey, executive director of the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology, said, “Oftentimes, challenges in technology adoption have more to do with relationships and trust than boxes and wires. We certainly learned that while implementing Governor Lamont’s Everybody Learns initiative during the pandemic, with many insights we can leverage from that experience.”
Over the next year, the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology will lead efforts in the state to develop a plan that identifies and addresses the barriers citizens face to getting online and using digital tools and resources. The intent is to broaden access to technology so all Connecticut residents can benefit from life in the digital world for learning, career advancement, telehealth, leveraging state services, and overall well-being. The grant emphasizes the needs of traditionally disenfranchised groups, including residents at or below 150% of the poverty line, racial and ethnic minorities, the aging, those who are incarcerated in State facilities, individuals with disabilities or language barriers, those living in rural areas, and veterans. If the plan is approved, the commission will likely receive $17 million over the next six years to create and scale digital equity initiatives.
For more information on how the state is working to expand access to fast, affordable, and reliable internet service to all Connecticut residents and businesses, visit portal.ct.gov/broadband.
For more information about DEEP’s broadband programs, email DEEP.email@example.com. For more information about Connecticut’s digital equity efforts, including how to host a forum in your community, email Doug Casey from the Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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