Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced that the state is receiving approximately $5 million through two grant awards from the U.S. Department of Commerce to help develop a plan that will identify and expand access to affordable, high-speed internet, as well as ways to develop skills needed to engage in a digital society.
Gov. Lamont’s office noted that the grants are part of the Biden-Harris administration’s Internet for All initiative and include a Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) grant of $4.2 million that will be administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), and a Digital Equity grant of $736,568 that will be administered by the Commission for Educational Technology, part of the Connecticut Department of Administrative Services (DAS).
“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,” Gov. Lamont said in a statement. “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.”
According to state leaders, the $5 million is “seed funding” for what will be a total of $100 million that the state anticipates it will receive over the next five years. That funding will be administered by the DEEP Office of Telecommunications and Broadband. Gov. Lamont’s office noted that 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.
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.”
The Connecticut Commission for Educational Technology is tasked 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 and will spend the next year developing that plan.
“Broadband connectivity is essential to living in today’s digital world,” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes. “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.”