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Massachusetts Broadband Coalition Is Formed With Focus on Public Private Partnerships
Representing 26 towns across Massachusetts, from Cape Cod to Chelsea, an informal group of mostly town officials have formed the Massachusetts Broadband Coalition in search of a way out of a broken broadband market to ensure everyone in their individual communities has access to high-speed Internet.
The newly-formed coalition has recently started to meet monthly to share information about what kind of alternatives there might be, or could be, to the big cable monopoly provider in their towns.
Questioning Monopoly Rules Without Reinventing the Wheel
The coalition, which held its first meeting in January, was convened by Robert Espindola, Fairhaven Selectmen and the board’s liaison to the town’s broadband study committee. And though the coalition is “in its infant stages,” as Espindola recently shared with ILSR, one common theme has emerged from each participating member.
“No doubt the common theme is: there’s no competition,” he said. “That’s how it started in Fairhaven for us. When we were negotiating our (franchise) agreement with Comcast, people in the community were asking: ‘why can’t we get competition?’”
When we first came together it was really more just to learn from each other, what each community was doing. And we wanted to see if we could find ways to work more efficiently and not reinvent the wheel.
Indeed, communities across the nation have set out to tackle local connectivity challenges head-on with a community broadband approach without having to reinvent the wheel. Some have built, or are building locally-controlled, publicly-owned open-access fiber networks to create the conditions for competition. Other cities and towns are building, maintaining, and operating their own successful municipal broadband networks. While still others have opted to enter into a public-private partnership with an independent ISP to build out a community-wide network.
Public-Private Partnerships Come into Focus
Washington State Community-Led Broadband Projects Get Massive Boost From New Grants
Buoyed by an explosion in new grants and the recent elimination of state restrictions on community broadband deployments, Washington State is awash in freshly-funded local broadband proposals that should go a long way toward shoring up affordable Internet access across the Pacific Northwest.
In addition to Covid relief and various state grants, thirteen Washington State counties, ports and Tribal associations recently received $145 million in Broadband Infrastructure Acceleration grants aimed at boosting Internet access and affordability statewide. It’s the first tranche of $260 million planned for new infrastructure, and particularly exciting because it looks like nearly all of the funds went to community-led endeavors, with many of the newly built networks operated by local governments. Some projects will result in partnerships with locally rooted providers.
“Infrastructure is the foundation for digital equity,” Washington Commerce Director Lisa Brown said of the funding. “Washington state’s goal is to ensure all of our residents have access to affordable high-speed internet, as well as the devices, skills and confidence needed to connect with critical resources.”
State leaders say they received more than $413 million-worth of requests for 36 different projects, and have shared both a list and a map of all approved grants online.
Essential Aid for Existing Projects
Collaboration Across the Commonwealth Advances State Broadband Goals
Across the Commonwealth of Virginia, local governments, county broadband authorities, cooperatives, and private Internet Service Providers are leveraging the influx of American Rescue Plan funds to reach the state’s goal of achieving universal access to high-speed Internet connectivity by 2024.
With $850 million in state appropriations for broadband connectivity and $1.15 billion in local government and private service providers’ funding matches, the state is on track to invest $2 billion dollars toward broadband expansion in the coming years, and is currently investing in broadband expansion projects at record levels.
In August, Gov. Ralph Northam and the Virginia State Legislature agreed to devote $700 million of the state’s $4.3 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to expand access to broadband. The $850 million investment the state has announced will consist mostly of American Rescue Plan aid. The funds will be administered by the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI), which distributes grants to public-private partnerships to extend broadband service to unserved regions of the state, or areas that lack access to Internet service delivering connection speeds of at least 25/3 Megabits per second (Mbps).
Public-Private Partnerships Deep in the Heart of Virginia
From the marsh grasslands making up Virginia’s Eastern Shore, across the three peninsulas carved out by the Chesapeake Bay, all the way to the Shenandoah Valley in the West, a diverse array of regional partnerships have formed between Virginia’s local governments, electric and telephone cooperatives, and private ISPs as broadband expansion efforts continue to advance in 2022.
Cheers for Madison County Effort to Bring Fiber to the Farm and Beyond
Situated in rural Central New York, Madison County (pop. 71,000) was named in honor of America’s fourth President, James Madison. But it was the region’s history of growing hops for beer that really put the county on the map. By 1859, New York state produced 80 percent of all hops grown in the U.S., thanks in no small measure to the crops in Madison County.
Today, while the community still celebrates this history at the annual HopFest, county leaders are now focused on the future and how to ensure the region does not get left in the dust by missing out on an essential economic development ingredient: high-speed Internet connectivity. In a modern economy, broadband infrastructure is indispensable in general terms and specifically for the efficient operation of precision agriculture.
With a focus now on the digital landscape, Madison County planners have embarked on a project to bring fiber to the farm as well as thousands of other other residents and businesses across the region.
What really got things off the ground, or rather into the ground, was the county being awarded a USDA ReConnect grant last year. Madison is the only county in United States to directly receive ReConnect grant funding in FY 2020.
In July, the USDA announced it would grant $10.1 million in ReConnect funds in support of the project to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises network that will connect 2,170 people, 50 farms and 30 businesses to high-speed broadband in Madison County as part of a larger countywide project. The county will work with private Internet Service provider (ISP) Empire Access to eventually bring fiber connectivity to nearly 7,600 households in the region.
A Fertile Land For Fiber
Two years ago, Madison County officials decided to make broadband a top priority. The most underserved area of Madison is in the southern part of the county, where DSL and satellite were primarily offered, with limited addresses eligible for cable access.
New Resource: Our Big List of American Rescue Plan Community Broadband Projects
With the first traunch of American Rescue Plan funds going out to counties and cities earlier this summer, many local leaders have begun to propose projects and seek input from citizens about how they should be used. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) represents an unprecedented amount of money flowing to local governments, but the consequences of operating for more than a year and a half under the burden of the Covid-19 pandemic are such that there seems to be so many things that need attention.
Access to universal, affordable, fast Internet access is among them, but the road from recognizing the need and implementing thoughtful policies is not an equally smooth one for all. Sometimes, a little inspiration is all it takes.
That's where our new resource comes in. Our Big List of American Rescue Plan Community Broadband Projects documents the ongoing list of city, county, and state projects which are under consideration, have been announced, or are under way. Arranged alphabetically by state and organized by whether they are under consideration or are planned, the below are those broadband expansion projects being pursued by cities and counties as they look to expand access via telephone and electric cooperatives, nonprofits, community-owned solutions, or private providers.
This resource will be updated in the coming weeks and months, but if you have any corrections, additions, or updates, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Read Our Big List of American Rescue Plan Community Broadband Projects here.
Our Big List of American Rescue Plan Community Broadband Projects
With the first launch of American Rescue Plan funds going out to counties and cities earlier this summer, many local leaders have begun to propose projects and seek input from citizens about how they should be used. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) represents an unprecedented amount of money flowing to local governments, but the consequences of operating for more than a year and a half under the burden of the Covid-19 pandemic are such that there seems to be so many things that need attention.
Access to universal, affordable, fast Internet access is among them, but the road from recognizing the need and implementing thoughtful policies is not an equally smooth one for all. Sometimes, a little inspiration is all it takes.
That's where this page comes in. This is our ongoing list of projects which are under consideration, have been announced, or are under way. Arranged alphabetically by state and organized by whether they are under consideration or are planned, the below are those broadband expansion projects being pursued by cities and counties as they look to expand access via telephone and electric cooperatives, nonprofits, community-owned solutions, or private providers.
It currently features 217 community-led broadband projects, as well as 25 states which have announced significant broadband grant programs or disbursement for new infrastructure projects.
Jump to a state to see announced broadband projects:
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
For a comprehensive breakdown of state broadband grant programs keep up with ILSR’s ongoing series tracking Rescue Plan funded state broadband programs, How American Rescue Plan Broadband Funds Stack Up in the States, which details which state programs favor community-driven connectivity solutions (right now Arkansas, California, Maine, Maryland, Vermont, and Washington), which will likely end up subsidizing big monopoly ISPs, and which fall somewhere in between.
This page will be updated in the coming weeks and months, but if you have any corrections, additions, or updates, please email email@example.com
Broadband is a definite priority in discussions of how to best distribute the remaining $580 million in Rescue Plan dollars from Alabama’s first installment, as well as the state’s $191 million in allowances from the capital projects fund. Lawmakers have proposed directing $276 million towards increasing connectivity, though the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs has pointed out that “federal funds are only a fraction of the estimated $4.6 billion it would take to provide “border to border broadband.””
The Alabama Senate has passed three broadband bills. The first is a constitutional amendment that would permit municipalities to offer grants to private companies interested in deploying broadband locally. Today, local governments are not allowed to “provide a thing of value to a private company.” Residents will vote on the amendment in November of 2022. The other bills include allowing for large scale mapping efforts across the state so that cost estimates for connectivity can be secured. The bills are on their way to the House.
Gadsden is considering using some of its $24 million to establish "media centers" with broadband access and devices for students to complete homework.
The city of Mobile is considering a mayoral plan for Rescue Plan funds including using $3 million to extended broadband access to unserved and underserved areas. There's no word on whether it would be to subsidize for-profit providers to extend access, work with a local telephone company or cooperative, or build municipally owned infrastructure.
The Akiak Native Community, currently only able to get slow and expensive Internet access through the TERRA network, will soon have a new solution. The community is launching an effort to lease LEO connectivity through satellite provider OneWeb to a fixed wireless tower before it is retransmitted using the 2.5GHz spectrum bands for residential and business access to all. There's no word on how much the effort cost, but other communities are already looking to follow suit.
Arizona is set to receive $4.2 billion in American Rescue Plan funds, half of which has been received by the state. Of that, state lawmakers have allocated $100 million to expand broadband infrastructure. The money is being sent to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to deploy fiber conduit along Interstate 17 and Interstate 19. The infrastructure along interstates is part of Arizona's Statewide Middle-Mile Network, an effort to bring private last-mile investment to underserved areas across the state.
Yavapai County officials have committed $20 million of the county’s $45.6 million in American Rescue Plan funds toward a $50 million broadband project to extend the county’s network currently serving schools and libraries, to all homes and businesses within Yavapai County. In addition to the county’s portion, another $6.12 million for the project will come from municipalities matching fund contributions. Participating municipalities, including the city of Sedona, are required to contribute 20 percent of their ARP funds.
Phoenix City Council has approved spending $10 million to expand its Community Wireless Network Project to four new school districts via a partnership with the "Phoenix Union High School District, 13 public elementary schools as well as the Maricopa County Community Colleges District." The network was started in May 2020.
Mesa City has allocated $4.5 million in Rescue Plan funding to extend broadband access to students living in Mesa’s western neighborhoods. The project will likely include a partnership with Mesa Public Schools and will involve the construction of 21 new cellular radio towers to reach unserved students and their families.
The governor has proposed adding $250 million to the Arkansas Rural Connect grant program with Rescue Plan funds, which is roughly how much the program has disbursed since its founding in 2019. The plan will need approval from the state's Rescue Plan steering committee as well as the Legislative Council.
The Arkansas Legislative Council has approved $120 million in state Rescue Plan dollars to go to 34 "shovel-ready" broadband projects across the state, with an additional $27 million provisionally approved for 12 additional projects that are eligible if they pass technical review. While a significant portion of the funds look to be going to national provider Windstream, also funded are as many as seven projects by electric cooperatives totaling $18 million. See the full list here.
Little Rock will spend $337,000 on expanding broadband to the East Little Rock Community Center and to place Internet access hot spots in city parks.
Two private providers will leverage ARPA dollars under the Arkansas Rural Connection Grant program to build out to residents in Jefferson County. Pine Bluff Cable TV will use over $5 million to connect Sulphur Springs, Pinebergen, East Pine Bluff and Island Harbor. Ritter Communications has received nearly $16 million to connect “communities along U.S. 65 and U.S. 270,” as well as “communities along U.S. 79 north of Pine Bluff, including Altheimer and Wabbaseka.”
The city of West Memphis will allocate $2 million in Rescue Plan funding for “infrastructure and public Wi-Fi,” with eventual plans to spend $13 million to connect residents in the coming few years. The source of this $13 million has not been specified.
The state has announced that $3.25 billion will go towards its announced middle-mile infrastructure network. In addition, California lawmakers have coalesced around a strategy that includes state-funded technical assistance teams to provide guidance to communities building municipal networks. It has established a $750 million financing program so that municipalities, cooperatives, and nonprofits can access long-term, low-interest financing to build out fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks. Beyond that, as EFF reports, “an additional $2 billion is (also) available in grants for unserved pockets of the state for private and public applicants.”
Fairfield City voted in May 2021 to approve a plan to build out a city-owned network using a portion of the funds it is set to receive. It has partnered with Magellan Advisors, and has launched a community survey to get input.
Tiburon has voted to spend $94,000 of its $2.1 million to contract Magellan Advisors to assess connectivity in the community and offer recommendations for improving access. The firm will report back its findings and offer suggestions around the middle of 2022.
Barstow will spend $160,000 to upgrade network infrastructure for its city hall, police facilities, and the wastewater treatment plant.
The Nevada County Board of Supervisors has allocated $2.5 million of its expected $19.3 million for infrastructure projects, of which broadband is named as a priority.
The Chico City Council voted to earmark $5 million of the city’s $22 million in federal relief funds to research and implement a plan to improve citywide Internet access. City council members have already authorized spending $250,000 of the funds to develop a Broadband Master Plan in conjunction with EntryPoint Networks.
The Paso Robles City library has 42 hotspots available for checkout. 22 of these were purchased recently with Rescue Plan funding via the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, which is administered by the State Librarian.
Over $3.94 million in ARPA funding will be delivered to Solano County schools under ECF. In Marin County, $2 million will go to two libraries and seven school districts, who will use the funding to help connect students at home. Several of the state’s Central Coast school districts and charter schools will be able to use $14 million in Rescue Plan funding to help students obtain devices and connect to the Internet. Two districts in San Benito County have received nearly $450,000 thanks to the program. ECF has delivered a total of $660 million to California schools so far.
Santa Cruz County is dedicating $500,000 in ARPA dollars to connect housing developments and lower-income areas through the Equal Access Santa Cruz program. The county hopes to provide 4,000 households with free or low-cost Internet access. To provide service, the county has selected local ISP Cruzio, which will invest $1.5 million in the project.
Lompoc has partnered with nearby cities Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Goleta, Carpinteria, Guadalupe, Solvang and Buellton to put together a plan for connecting residents across the seven communities. The group of cities plans to partner with Santa Barbara county and the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments. Lompoc expects to contribute nearly $28,000 to the buildout, drawing from its ARPA-sourced Capital Improvement Plan. The city received a total of $6.3 million in ARPA funding.
Imperial will dedicate $735,000 of its Rescue Plan funding to a public Wi-Fi network that will provide connectivity in parks and in the downtown area. In the shorter term, several libraries in the area are leveraging their funding under ECF to offer connectivity kits available for checkout.
Auburn City Manager John Donlevy has suggested broadband improvements as among the three highest priorities for the city's $3.45 million, with committees to explore options for moving forward.
The city of Oakley is considering spending $50,000 of its first tranche of American Rescue dollars ($5 million) on a “broadband feasibility study/fiber master plan.”
Colorado has established a state broadband office, and allocated a total of $75 million for new broadband infrastructure. It looks like among those funds, $20 million will be grants aimed directly at tribal connectivity efforts and $15 million for telehealth services. An additional $35 million creates a broadband stimulus grant program. It encourages the office to prioritize applicants that did not receive state funding in previous five years for lack of funds.
Kiowa County Commissioners agreed to commit $4,096 of the county’s $273,099 in Rescue Plan funds to the Southern Colorado Economic Development District (SCEDD) for two broadband grant applications, including (1) a SCEDD grant request to DOLA to partially-fund the creation of a Comprehensive Implementation Blueprint and (2) a SCEDD grant to request to the EDA to largely-fund the hiring of a Broadband Coordinator and support staff for three years.
The City and County of Broomfield are considering teaming up to spend their roughly $20 million in funds on a variety of projects, including $5 million to update water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.
Boulder, which continues to make progress on a city-owned network, is setting aside $15 million for its "long-term" projects focused on "public health and safety, affordability and service access and community and economic resiliency," which includes an expansion of a fiber network. In the meantime, the city will use some funds to provide Internet access to public housing sites, and has allocated nearly $900,000 in ARPA funding to connect these sites under Boulder Housing Partners.
The city of Bristol is considering using some of the $28 million it will receive to extend its current fiber network, which serves government buildings and schools. Local officials are talking about extending that fiber first into surrounding neighborhoods, but eventually reaching the whole city. Bristol is waiting on a report from a consulting firm it has hired to gauge interest and costs in late August, but part of the project comes as the result of regular complaints about the current ISP.
New Britain plans to spend $5.8 million in Rescue Plan funding in a project with GoNetspeed to string 170 miles of fiber and connect a vast majority of the city of 70,000.
Delaware Gov. John Carney, along with the state’s other top officials, have announced $110 million of the state’s Rescue Plan funds will be set aside “to cover every ‘last mile’ of Delaware with high-speed, wireline broadband Internet service.” Unfortunately, language from the governor's office suggests that the money is not intended to be used for community-owned broadband networks but to be awarded to privately-owned Internet Service Providers. Even more disappointing is that Aacording to Government Technology, who spoke with Clarke after the announcement, even though Clarke said the state wants ISPs to deliver 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) symmetrical services, “vendors can decide whether to use fiber optics or copper to hook up the addresses, so long as the service supports sufficient bandwidth.”
Comcast, Verizon and Mediacom have received $33 million, $12 million, and $11 million, respectively (nearly $56 million total), under Delaware’s Broadband Infrastructure Grants program to bring “high-speed, wired broadband service” to 11,600 additional addresses. The grants are funded by the American Rescue Plan and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Customers are expected to receive minimum speeds of 100/20 Mbps. Providers will match 25 percent of the total project costs.
The town of Arden is considering improving broadband access among a handful of options.
The state of Florida plans to to use $400 million to create a trust fund and use it to apply for $100 million in Coronavirus Capital Projects funding. All states are eligible to apply for at least this amount, and “additional money [is] available based on the proportion of the population in rural areas and household incomes below 150% of the poverty line.”
Alachua County has indicated in its Recovery Plan Performance Report that it will allocate $15 million toward broadband infrastructure. The county plans to work with "cities, [the] school board, colleges and UF on maximizing the impact of providing broadband to underserved and unserved communities," though the endeavor remains "under development."
Flagler County will aim to use 4.5%, or about $1 million, to expand Internet access to unserved and underserved areas, committing funds from the first traunch coming its way.
Manatee County Commissioner George Kruse has called bringing Internet access to the county's 2,400 completely unserved locations "our No. 1 item" as it considers how to spend the $78 million it is slated to receive.
Sarasota City Commissioners have given initial approval of the city’s FY 2021-22 budget, which allocates a portion of the city’s $10.1 million in relief funds toward installing free Wi-Fi in four city parks.
Gainesville is deciding between three municipal broadband options: “as an amenity through fiber optic cable, as a public utility through wireless overlay or a private-public partnership between the city and a company.” City Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos advocates for allocating $9.6 million of the city’s ARPA funding to municipal broadband, and argues that a fiber buildout could yield $70 million in profit for the city in two decades. He also advocates for free Internet access for residents with low incomes. Another commissioners voiced support for wireless infrastructure rather than fiber, while another preferred to see the ARPA dollars directed away from broadband altogether and towards affordable housing. On March 3rd however, the commission approved efforts to arrange a business plan for pilot service in the eastern part of the city.
With the help of $171 million in American Rescue dollars, Kinetic by Windstream will bring gigabit fiber to 83,000 Georgia homes and businesses in 18 Georgia counties. The set of partnerships is one of Georgia’s 49 ARPA projects.
Flint Energies and Conexon Connect will partner to bring broadband to 31,000 in Middle Georgia. The partnership will result in a 3,000 miles of fiber connecting Crawford, Macon, Marion, Muscogee, Peach, Schley, Talbot, Taylor and south Houston counties. The project is supported by a $25 million ARPA grant, as well as investments by both companies involved, and is expected to cost a total of $90 million.
Peachtree Corners has approved plans for $16.4 million in funds, of which $1 million is a tentative Wi-Fi project using city light poles. While it is unlikely signals would be strong enough to reach residents in their homes, it would improve connectivity options outside.
Brunswick has indicated it will use a portion of its initial $4.6 million on "broadband enhancements," but there are no specifics at this point in time.
$3.5 million in Rescue Plan dollars has been awarded to McDuffie County, which the county hopes to use to engage smaller providers and fill in the gaps left by existing providers Comcast and AT&T.
Floyd County is working on a potential public-private partnership to use some portion of the county's $19.1 million to expand broadband to unserved areas where, local officials say, grants are hard to get because of the proportion of the population that already has basic broadband access.
Augusta, Georgia is considering a broadband project among the infrastructure it will tackle with its $80 million in federal funds. $22.6 million in water meter, drainage, affordable housing, and EMS operations have already been recommended by the City Administrator.
The state has established a broadband infrastructure grant program of $5 million to bring service to unserved and underserved (defined as less than 50/5 Mbps) location. It requires applicants to commit 60% of the funds for projects, and explicitly bars local governments from applying.
Ammon, Idaho is planning to use some Rescue Plan money to extend its open access fiber network into "lesser-served areas of town," according to Mayor Sean Coletti.
Tippecanoe County plans to devote $15 million in ARPA funding to provide nearly universal fiber broadband to the area. The county will partner with electric utility Tipmont Wintek to connect 2,600 locations in Buck Creek, Clarks Hill, Shadeland, and Otterbein, in addition to a few other areas which are too rural to incentivize providers to serve them.
The Grange City Council is considering a proposal by the local economic development association, the Port of Lewiston, and a district broadband task force to allocate 10 percent of its Rescue Plan funds, or $67,000, to a middle-mile backbone project intended to improve last-mile connectivity and spur investment.
The group is also approaching other counties and cities in District 2, which includes a portion of Boise as well as 26 counties. Among those local governments that have heard the propsal, one has committed funds. The group is asking the rest for funds as follows: "According to information provided at the meeting, city seats were requested to make the following 10 percent allocations of their ARPA funding: Lewiston, $620,020; Moscow, $530,344; Grangeville, $66,793; Orofino, $63,946; and Nezperce, $9,451. Counties were requested to make 25 percent allocations (except Lewis County at 24 percent): Nez Perce, $1.950M; Latah, $1.917M; Idaho, $780,000; Clearwater $422,500; and Lewis, $175,500."
With the help of a survey to gauge resident interest, Eagle is considering using its own Rescue Plan funding to build an open access network that would allow the city to exercise greater control over the quality of Internet service its residents receive.
Ada County Commissioners are considering a proposal to use $10 million in Rescue Plan funds to help build a 100-mile fiber loop in the western portions of the county where broadband infrastructure is lacking and where demographic studies say the most population growth will take place over the next two decades. The plan is to sign a long-term lease from the existing private ISP in the area and use the Rescue Plan funds to close the gaps with new fiber. The goal is to not only reduce government costs, but allow video court proceedings while also incenting private ISPs to come into the area and finish the last-mile buildout to existing and future residents.
The second round of Connect Illinois has been announced, funded by “$23 million in Connect Illinois grant awards matched by $24 million in non-state funding for a total of more than $47 million.” The program is intended to connect 13,000 homes, businesses, farms and community institutions.
The city of Decatur is using $115,000 of ARP relief funds to move forward with an Institutional Network (I-Net) expansion that will connect 11 school districts and 3 firehouses to its growing fiber-optic backbone. Although some of the funding is coming from federal relief, the project will largely be funded by a Connect Illinois grant.
Six communities (the City of Springfield, Jackson County, Knox County, Mercer County, Whiteside County, and the Village of Elsah) will comprise Accelerate Illinois’s first cohort. The program is a “14-week intensive training program [that] will help leaders from participating communities develop broadband plans” and leverage state funding opportunities (like the American Rescue Plan) to do so.
Whiteside will give $3 million in ARPA funding to broadband cooperative Sand Prairie to support what is predicted to be a $70 million effort to connect and improve the connections of the county’s 21,000 un- and underserved. Sand Prairie and the county will collectively contribute 25% of the total funding, and the rest will come from state and federal funds.
Cook County officials have announced that expanding access to broadband is one of two top priorities as the county determines how to spend just over $1 billion in ARP funds. The county is urging residents to complete this survey to give feedback about how relief funds should be spent.
In August, state lawmakers in Indiana allocated $250 million of its Rescue Plan funds for the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant program. With that allotment, the grant program now has $270 million available to award grant applicants. That money is available to both private incumbent providers who have served “at least 100 subscribers for at least three years in Indiana,” as well as to utility cooperatives operating in the state. The minimum subscriber requirement indicates that the money can't be used, at least initially, to jumpstart new community network options.
Howard County Commissioners have voted unanimously to spend $1.5-2 million on expanding access and options, issuing an RFP to either fiber or wireless providers to bring access to unserved or underserved parts of town. As one condition from the RFP, respondents must prove the infrastructure they build can match 100 Mbps/20 Mbps speeds and 100 ms latency, and include a pricing structure that includes plans or subsidies for low-income residents. It is unclear if the infrastructure would be publicly owned.
Miami County has pledged $1.4 million of its $6.8 million to contribute to a fiber-to-the-home project by local cooperative Miami-Cass REMC. The money will help the cooperative install 65 miles of fiber to speed up deployment in rural parts of the county.
The Dubois City Council is considering allocating $4.35 million of the county’s $8.3 million in ARP funds to the Dubois Electric Cooperative to extend fiber infrastructure to unserved and underserved areas in the county.
Vanderburgh County, Indiana has issued an RFP soliciting providers to build new infrastructure in underserved locations in the county. As it considers using Rescue Plan funds to incent investment and provide a local match, is asking respondents for plans that meet the network eligibility requirements set forth in the legislation.
Gary, Indiana Mayor Jerome Prince is received a little more than $40 million in Rescue Plan funds, of which a proposed plan developed in collaboration with business leaders includes a portion of $25 million for investments in broadband infrastructure.
Lee County Board of Supervisors has voted to spend 30 percent of its Rescue Plan funds, totaling $1.95 million, to contribute to a project with local company Danville Telecom to expand the latter's fiber footprint across higway 16 to reach additional households. Danville will pair the county contribution with a recent $3.55 million grant from the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant program, covering the entire cost of the project.
In rural Delmar, Durant, and Bennett, F&B Communications of Wheatland will use $3.57 million in ARPA dollars to expand its FTTH networks. Outside DeWitt and Welton, Grand Mound Cooperative Telephone Association will expand rural connectivity for $650,223. In Clinton County, Preston Telephone Company will use $1.9 million to expand upon its broadband infrastructure. All projects are funded by the Empower Rural Iowa program, to which the state has directed a portion of its $2.5 billion in ARPA funding.
Mills County is expanding local broadband in partnership with Western Iowa Networks (WIN). The county has dedicated $1 million (including a portion of its recovery flood money) to network buildout and improvement.
Waterloo residents recently voted to issue $20 million in general obligation bonds to support the project. Both the backbone and last-mile infrastructure are expected to cost around $115 million in total. The county will contribute nearly $668,000 for the backbone, and hopes to see the project create 177 new jobs in the area.
The Southeast Iowa Regional and Economic Port Authority (SIREPA) has already announced that it will be requesting $2 million in county ARP funds, the full 30 percent of the funds the committee preliminarily allocated to broadband improvements in the county.
Dubuque County’s Information Technology Department has suggested using several million of the county’s ARPA dollars to help fund middle mile stretches of conduit. The county would then contract with providers interested in accessing the conduit to lay fiber. The infrastructure project is intended to prevent providers from “monopolizing areas where they have laid conduit” and from leaving certain pockets completely unserved.
The state of Kentucky will devote $300 million of its Rescue Plan funds to a grant program for unserved and underserved locations throughout the state. The first round of grant applications, totaling $50 million, are due in October and will be disbursed in spring 2022.
Calloway County has voted to partner with local cooperative WK&T as it continues to expand its fiber-to-the-home network in the region, committing $6.2 million (with the cooperative doing the same) to expand the latter's network to every unserved and underserved location in the county. In addition, the contract providers "free services to all the Calloway County Fire-Rescue stations." In total, an estimated 5,300 homes and businesses will receive service, with the county indicating that its Rescue Plan funds are a promising option for the local match.
Grayson is building a 100 Gigabit per second network that will reach all 4,200 of its residents. The network will allow for accelerated response time during natural disasters, which is a primary incentive for the construction of this new municipal network.
Boone County is giving away $13.6 million in ARPA funds to Cincinnati Bell, which will contribute $30 million of its own funding to build out a ubiquitous 1 Gbps network. Cincinnati Bell will own the network.
In McLean County, Judge-Executive Curtis Dame has submitted a Delta Regional Authority (DRA) grant for a $700,000 project to leverage local electric cooperative Kenergy Corp’s infrastructure to build out fiber to residents. The grant requires a match, so if the money is received, the county will contribute $185,000. Watch Communications appears to be a potential partner. Dame has proposed plans to bring broadband to underserved residents, but at speeds of just 25 Mbps.
Bowling Green is seeking proposals from vendors for a ubiquitous fiber-to-the-home project. The city has allocated $16.5 million to incentivize providers to invest in the project, though this amount will not cover the full cost of buildout. Bowling Green hopes to connect all 27,000 households and 4,000 businesses, 99 percent of which have access to at least 25/3 but 75 percent of which do not have access to gig speeds.
The state of Louisiana has created the Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities program (GUMBO) to distribute $90 million in ARPA dollars to bring service to unserved and underserved communities around the state. Another $87 million is expected. The program, which requires a 20 percent match but rewards applicants who commit to contributing more, will fund projects that “provide high-speed Internet at affordable prices for the next five years.” So far, applicants have committed to matching an average of 40 percent. Additionally, those projects which "receive buy-in from local governments will earn extra points."
The parish of St. Mary is expected to use some of the funds it receives to improve connectivity in and between government buildings.
The state has allocated $128 million of its American Rescue Plan funds to expand access to broadband. The funds will be disbursed by the ConnectMaine Authority.
Caribou’s mayor has proposed an amendment which would permit the establishment of a city broadband infrastructure division. Though Caribou city councilors are in favor of the amendment, they have not yet committed to providing funding for the buildout. They did, however, unanimously approved a plan to use $159,000 of $801,892 in federal relief to undertake an engineering study with Pioneer Broadband in pursuit of a city owned fiber-to-the-home network, which would be operated by a third party. The study found “5,150 potential residents who could be served under universal broadband, with 2,900 of them living in more remote regions of the city where there is insufficient coverage.”
The Androscoggin County Commission recently awarded Leeds $300,000 in ARPA funding to put towards a $2.2 million broadband buildout project that will allow Spectrum to build out to 329 homes currently outside its network. Leeds will issue a $1 million bond and devote $270,000 of its own Rescue Plan funds to the project, and hopes to receive additional funding from the state to reach its goal.
Litchfield has given $375,000 in ARPA funding to wireless provider Redzone to connect the town. Litchfield, which was categorized as underserved prior to the project, is projected to be entirely covered by June 2022.
Knox County is mulling a request by the MidCoast Internet Coalition for $7.7 million in its pursuit of a nonprofit regional broadband utility. It is also considering requests from four communities looking to expand broadband access in parts of town with poor or no connections, including: Vinalhaven, Rockport, Union, and Owls Head.
State Governor Larry Hogan and the Maryland State Legislature have approved a plan to use $300 million of the $3.9 billion in federal aid the state is receiving to expand broadband infrastructure and digital inclusion initiatives across the state. Of the $300 million, $97 million will go towards funding the construction of physical infrastructure, and $45 million is earmarked specifically for grants to buildout municipal broadband networks. It’s one of the biggest allotments of funds specifically targeted at municipal networks of any state in the nation. The budget agreement also includes $45 million to subsidize monthly Internet service costs for qualifying families and $30 million to pay for Internet-connected devices for financially eligible households. It also includes an additional $4 million for a new University System of Maryland program to support training and developing curriculum to bridge the digital divide as well as $2 million for digital navigator programs. Find an itemized breakdown of the $300 million investment here.
The Allegany County Board of Commissioners is using a combination of relief funds and state grant funding to invest $1 million to bring wireless Internet access to several underserved areas.
Worcester County has committed $4.6 million of its funds to expanding broadband and contributing to the county's firefighting department, as part of a plan to incent Internet Service Providers to improve connectivity in the region. So far, Worcester County Commissioners have voted unanimously to allocate $820,000 of those broadband expansion funds to the Maryland Broadband Cooperative. County Commissioners have allowed Talkie Communications to apply for a federal infrastructure grant to bring broadband to residents in rural areas. The grant requires a 10 percent match ($2 million if the county were to recieve the requested amount), which would come from the county’s American Rescue funding.
It looks like Calvert County is going to give Comcast $3.2 million to bring service to at least 300 locations.
Mayor Brandon Scott has announced that Baltimore will dedicate $35 million in ARPA funding to close the digital divide. $6 million of this will bring fiber to 23 recreation centers and Wi-Fi hotspots in 100 locations across neighborhoods in west Baltimore.
Talbot County has decided to dedicate $1.75 million in ARPA dollars to establishing ubiquitous broadband connectivity in the area. The initiative is called Connect Talbot, “a five-year, $25 million project created by Easton Utilities that aims to bring broadband infrastructure and access to 100% of Talbot County’s unserved areas.” The county intends to connect 3,400 households and 144 farms over a 122 square mile coverage area. The total project price tag is expected to fall around $25 million; other funding sources include ReConnect and grants awarded to Easton Utilities.
Mayor Brandon Scott considers broadband to be one of three top spending priorities for Baltimore's $641 million in Rescue Plan funds.
The City of Greenfield will give municipal provider GCET $650,000 to finish its network, which remains to be completed in the north part of town.
In Boston, $12 million has been committed to provide free wireless Internet and devices for “public housing residents, library users, and school-age families.”
In Lowell, $4.3 million in ARPA funding has been allocated to 25 schools under ECF.
In Pittsfield, a municipal broadband network is the second-most popular result of a citywide survey asking residents what it should do with its funds.
The Milton Select Board is considering spending ARP funds to develop a municipal broadband system.
The Greenfield Mayor has indicated that using some funds to complete the city's municipal network (GCET) would be a priority, and is soliciting community feedback.
Worcester has committed $12 million for the "study and implementation of key broadband improvements," in the city, as it continues to explore municipal broadband.
Worcester County has named broadband as one of its top funding priorities, with commissioners indicating that while some will go to sewer infrastructure "the rest [will] focus on expanding broadband and providing financial support to local fire companies." The county is currently considering a request from Talkie Communications for a $5 million loan to expand in targeted areas. The county commissioner work group is set to make further decisions later this month.
Beckett is considering a plan to ask for Rescue Plan funds to retire some of the debt the town incurred in building its municipal broadband network.
Washtenaw County Commissioners have approved a plan to use $14.6 million in American Rescue Plan funds to bring broadband infrastructure to all county households that lack reliable high-speed Internet. The county was recently nearing the finish line on a plan to fund as many as four different providers to complete its goal of bringing universal basic broadband service to everyone in the county, reaching the last 3,000 or so households. It issued an RFP in May and is considering proposals by four firms, including local cooperative (and big recent RDOF winner) MEC.
The Green Township Board of Trustees approved a motion to spend up to $75,000 to purchase two towers to expand fixed wireless coverage. Although the towers will be purchased using a loan from the general fund, the loan will be repaid with ARP funds once the funds are disbursed by the state of Michigan, which is expected to occur in September.
In Westland, Wayne-Westland Community School District will receive $3 million in ARPA dollars to provide 5,000 students with devices and cellular data packages to complete schoolwork.
Van Buren County has decided to allocate $7 million in ARPA dollars to expand broadband access. The objective is to provide service to all residents, but the county has also emphasized its focus on connecting underserved communities.
Berrien County plans to allocate at least $6 million in ARPA dollars (out of the county’s total $30 million) to expanding Internet access in the area. Connectivity will come in the form of partnerships with local townships, which have already been approved to apply for funding.
Leelanau County has allocated $3.2 million out of a total $4.2 million ARPA pot to expand fiber connectivity to 8,000 un- or under-served residents in the area. The county has chosen Point Broadband as the ISP, which will invest over $12 million in upfront expenses and $10 million more in longer term costs. The total project price tag is closer to $17 million.
The Branch County Commission has asked its auditors to review a study by private wireless ISP Aspen Wireless which would use some of the county's $8.4 million in funds to help extend wireless infrastructure to cover "everyone in the county without high-speed services" at a cost of $40-45 million. It is not clear whether the network infrastructure would be owned by Aspen Wireless or the county at this time.
Webster Township's Board has passed a resolution "encouraging" the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners to use funds to expand broadband access. Webster Township itself will receive $712,000, though there is no word yet on if it will use any of those funds for broadband projects.
In Marion Township, a representative from local ISP MiSignal has proposed a plan to “expand high-speed internet service to the unserved and underserved in the community” using a fiber backbone to bring broadband access to the whole area. The decision whether to use ARPA funds for broadband has been postponed until Marion officials feel they have enough information.
Holland is considering an open access, ubiquitous ftth network and hopes to seek approval from residents in August. Though the city would allow private providers to offer service to customers, it also may provide its own service. The city already offers broadband service to a small portion of its downtown. Holland is currently deciding whether to direct $4.2 million (or 50 percent) of its ARPA dollars towards the $24 million buildout cost.
The Duluth City Council has approved a plan to spend $12.8 million of the $58.1 million it will receive on infrastructure, including $1 million on broadband. There are no additional details, excepting a line item in a recent press release which says the money could be used to "incentivize broadband providers to the City."
Otter Tail County Commissioners have committed spending 25 percent of the county’s American Rescue Plan funds, or $2.8 million, on projects which will expand broadband access.
Sherburne County officials will disperse $1.5 million of the county’s $18.8 million in Rescue Plan dollars through a broadband grant program. The county is taking applications from service providers, and will award up to $1.5 million in grants to expand broadband to unserved and underserved areas. The application can be found on Sherburne County's website and all applications are due on December 31, 2021.
Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners have earmarked $330,000 of the county’s $8.3 million in American Rescue Plan funds toward a broadband project aiming to deliver fiber to all premises within Prinsburg city limits. The County Board of Commissioners continues to approve grants for broadband expansion projects, using the county's American Rescue Plan Act allocation. Commissioners recently approved funding up to $185,828 to help pay for broadband upgrades in three neighborhoods located in New London Township and a small piece of Burbank Township. The county plans to direct a portion of its American Rescue funding towards the 50% match required for the state Border to Border grant.
The Wabasha County Board of Commissioners voted to commit $1 million of the county’s $4.2 million in Rescue Plan funds toward expanding rural Internet access. Wabasha County Administrator Michael Plante said he “envisions a grant program where Internet providers can apply through a request for proposals, letting the county know what projects they prioritize in rural area.”
St. Louis County, Minnesota has earmarked a total of $2 million so far in broadband grant programs aimed at boosting connectivity efforts led by communities in the region. By committing a match, the latter can apply for funds in pursuit of a wide range of planning and development activities. Those grant applications are due in September.
One township already taking advantage of St. Louis County's grant program is Greenwood, which is pursuing upcoming federal infrastructure dollars along with county funds and considering using some of its own $50,000 in Rescue Plan funds for the local match. Broadband continues to be a primary concern to local leaders, with the township running a broadband survey for residents and businesses right now.
Hennepin County will dedicate up to $10 million in Rescue Plan funds to build on existing county work to close the digital divide. The county will establish an Office of Broadband and Digital Inclusion to oversee these efforts.
Using $500,000 of its total ARPA pot, Medina will offer low- and middle-income residents free connectivity until December of 2022 through Comcast’s Internet Essentials program. More than 100 residents are currently taking advantage of the program, though funding will allow for up to 2,100 households to enroll.
$372,500 in Rescue Plan dollars will be used to deploy 44,000 ft. of fiber and to connect 112 households in Washington County. Midco will contribute $280,000, and the city of Scandia will contribute another $92,500.
Governor Parson has announced a plan to devote $400 million to broadband access aimed at 17,000 households, businesses, and other premises. Cole County Broadband Task Force member Roger Kloeppel, who also works for Three Rivers Electric Cooperative, told the News Tribune he was concerned whether public entities or only private providers would eligible for funding, noting that relying on private companies to take the lead is likely to leave pockets of unserved regions because private companies are focused on building only in areas where short-term returns can be made, as opposed to the cooperative approach in which serving every member in a service territory is more important than turning a profit.
The St. Louis Board of Alderman approved a plan to allocate $500,000 of $439 million in federal relief to expand access to public Wi-Fi and broadband.
The Stoddard County Commission unanimously voted to allocate $5 million of the county’s relief funds toward infrastructure projects, including broadband. The Stoddard County Commission asked SEMO Electric Cooperative about the cost to bring high-speed Internet to Puxico and rural areas of western Stoddard County, during a June Commission Meeting.
Northern Boone County, which the Department of Economic Development has characterized as underserved, is soon to be connected by Socket Telecom. The company will receive more than $5 million in ARPA dollars to lay fiber in Northern Boone County, out of a total $42.2 million to expand connectivity across Missouri. The total grant is expected to serve 13,000 households in 12 counties.
Missouri’s Fifth District schools and libraries have received over $15 million in ARPA dollars under the ECF for broadband connectivity and devices.
Columbia Mayor Brian Treece has set aside $10 million in ARP funds to improve access to broadband. To officially allocate the funding, the city council must authorize the motion during public hearings in September. Mayor Treece said he has already begun talking with council members about allocating the funding.
Gasconade County Commissioners and the Gasconda County Broadband Committee continue to talk about connectivity solutions in the region, and whether Rescue Plan funds could be used as part of the solution.
The state has created a $275 million fund for communications projects "related to broadband infrastructure, including cell towers, or public safety, if eligible." It requires that local governments and private providers applying include matching funds, and gives preference to “projects that provide broadband access to frontier, unserved, and underserved areas as designated by the department of commerce.” The bill also gives preference to projects that provide a higher match rate.
Bozeman has allocated $94,000 towards broadband infrastructure projects around the city.
The city of Lincoln in partnership with Lancaster County will spend $12 milion to expand connectivity in rural areas, though further details have not been released.
Lancaster County will direct $10 million in ARPA funding to build out 170 miles of conduit in rural areas.
White Pine County has proposed contributing $300,000 in an NTIA Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program application to build ftth in partnership with ISP Geoverse in McGill, Nevada.
Bristol will put $300,000 towards its municipally owned fiber-to-the-home network, which has made substantial progress in the last year. Town Administrator Nik Coates tells New Hampshire Public Radio that it's going to "completely improve our regional economy."
Lebanon is committing $60,000 in Rescue Plan dollars towards a $595,000 project to connect 142 unserved households. The community hopes to have all homes connected before 2023.
Grafton County officials are considering using $10 million of the county’s $17.4 million in ARP funds to construct a 353-mile-long middle mile network, if the county is not awarded a $26.2 million NTIA grant for the project.
Town leaders of Greenfield are considering using a portion of ARP funds to reduce the cost of a municipal bond the town issued in May to pursue a municipal broadband network build-out.
Town leaders of Lyndeborough are considering using a portion of ARP funds to expand access to broadband Internet. Roughly 40 percent of Lyndeborough residents currently do not have high-speed Internet access.
Hoboken will use $150,000 to improve Wi-Fi and wireline connectivity to and throughout Hoboken Housing Authority locations "to help combat social inequities and facilitate remote learning or work for residents."
Trenton's most recent plan contributes $1 million to extend or upgrade broadband connectivity at community anchor institutions like its senior centers and recreation facilities.
Bernalillo County Commissioners will allocate $10 million of the county’s $131.9 million in Rescue Plan relief funds to back fiber and broadband expansion projects in “the East Mountains and on Albuquerque’s far West Side along the Atrisco Vista Boulevard corridor,” reports the Albuquerque Journal.
Elmira is putting $4.9 million in funds towards water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, the latter of which includes working "with the Elmira school district and other entities to upgrade broadband in areas where connectivity is lacking."
The Chautauqua County Legislature approved a plan to allocate $2.5 million of the county’s $24.6 million in ARP funds to provide broadband to unserved or underserved residents.
Orleans and Niagara Counties have approved separate contracts with RTO Wireless to subsidize the construction of new wireless infrastructure, with RTO owning and operating the network thereafter and the city having no influence over costs, level of service, or reliability. Service is expected to go live in the first half of 2022. Niagara County agreed to contribute $4.3 million, and Orleans $3.6 million. It remains unclear how much of either comes directly out of those counties' Rescue Plan funds.
Schools and libraries in Saratoga will receive nearly $9 million in ARPA funding to purchase “broadband access, laptops, Wi-Fi hotspots, and other equipment necessary to get their homework done.”
Chemung County officials have proposed spending $1 million of $16 million in relief funds slated for the county for a municipal broadband build-out.
The Jamestown City Council is considering using $3 million of the $28 million in ARP relief funds the city is set to receive to build out citywide fiber infrastructure over the next three years, utilizing the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities’ existing fiber ring. The city is currently working with EntryPoint Networks on a feasibility study to estimate the overall cost of the project, as well as surveying residential interest in building a municipally owned open access broadband network in Jamestown.
North Carolina announced in March 2022 that it will direct $350 million in ARPA funding to the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology program.
Beaufort County Commissioners approved a plan to spend $4 million of the county’s $9 million in federal aid to begin negotiations with RiverStreet Networks to expand wireless broadband infrastructure in underserved areas of the county. It is not clear whether the network infrastructure would be owned by RiverStreet Networks or the county at this time.
The Watauga County Board of Commissioners have unanimously voted to spend $7 million of $11 million in ARP funds slated for the county to extend fiber Internet access to underserved parts of the county.
North Carolina’s Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology program has awarded a grant to Rutherford County, which will match it with $3 million of its own ARPA funds. The county is drawing from a total pot of $13 million. Roughly 70 percent of Rutherford households are connected, which is 10 percent lower than the state metric.
Catawba is home to 7,500 un- or underserved households, but the county hopes to receive funding under the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology grant program to connect 4,000 households. The state would contribute $4 million, the county $1.5 million in ARPA funding, and ISP Lumen would contribute another $4.3 to fund the buildout.
Pasquotank County will dedicate $150,000 in ARPA funding to support ISP Brightspeed in connecting nearly 1,000 residents with 53 miles of fiber. The project hinges on Brightspeed’s ability to secure $2.7 million under the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) grant program, which operates at the state level. This grant, the county’s contribution, and another $1 million investment by Brightspeed comprise the project’s $3.8 million total price tag.
Cumberland County is considering how to use $65 million in funds, with broadband infrastructure at the top of the list for many County Commissioners. It wants community feedback.
In Hendersonville, city staff has recommended that $250,000 of $4.5 million in ARPA funding be spent on fiber infrastructure.
The Cleveland City Council earmarked $20 million of the city’s $511 million in American Rescue Plan relief funds toward citywide broadband expansion. In response to a public survey launched by city leaders of Cleveland seeking feedback from city residents on how to spend $511 million in relief funds, the majority of participants proposed using the funds to address the digital divide by expanding fiber broadband options and subsidizing the cost of Internet access.
The Clark County Board of Commissioners have committed $2.2 million of the county’s $26 million in ARP relief funds toward a fiber expansion project that will boost connectivity among county government buildings.
Coshocton County Commissioners allocated $5 million of the county’s $7.1 million in ARP funds toward a project in partnership with local ISP Ohio TT, which will provide broadband services to rural residents.
Athens County Commissioners earmarked $250,000 of the county’s $19.5 million in ARP funds for a possible broadband expansion project in Amesville.
Richland County Commissioners have pledged $2 million of the county’s $23.4 million share of federal American Rescue Plan funds to expand broadband Internet service in the county.
Clark County Board of Commissioners has approved $2.2 million to build new infrastructure and connection to the existing MVECA network to service government buildings over roughly 32 miles of new fiber. Currently, there is no network between city facilities.
Greene County will pay $9.6 million to Cincinnati Bell to build fiber out to 40,000 homes and businesses, “including 9,600 underserved and rural locations.” The company is investing about $55 million to complete deployment, which will take approximately two years. Cincinnati Bell projects being able to serve 70% of Greene County by this time. Speeds will range from 250 Mbps to 1 Gbps.
Three townships will use ARPA funding to connect residents with fiber. Brown will receive $61,000, Carryall will receive over $126,00, and Washington will receive nearly $36,000.
Butler County Commissioners are considering using a portion of the county’s $75 million in ARP funds to finance a $4 million plan to expand high-speed Internet access to 2,700 rural premises, proposed by the Butler Rural Electric Cooperative.
Mayor of Athens Steve Patterson told the Athens Messenger the city hopes to use roughly one-fifth of its $2.5 million in ARP funding to connect city buildings to broadband. Patterson said he hopes to use another large chunk of the city’s ARP dollars to convert the Athens Armory at the end of Court Street into a remote work space that anyone could use. Another goal of his is to provide free Wi-Fi on Court Street and West Washington Street. Currently, Patterson said the city is operating off of an aging microwave Internet system that causes problems for the city.
Ames Township Trustee Lyle Fuller said while the township’s plans are far from final, the goal is to bring high-speed Internet to the township with the $108,000 in ARP funds they received, reports the Athens Messenger.
Defiance, Fulton, and Henry Counties are considering a request by a number of providers in the area to subsidize broadband expansion. The total ask is $370,000. One of them is local telephone cooperative Farmers Mutual Telephone.
A committee of Oklahoma State Legislators has been formed to decide how to allocate the $1.9 billion in federal relief headed to the state. Co-chair of the committee, State Senator Roger Thompson (R-Okemah), has announced that he wants to concentrate the funds toward expanding access to broadband. The committee is currently building a portal to receive resident feedback on how to allocate the funding. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Municipal League is urging Oklahoma’s 77 counties to allocate portions of $768 million in ARP relief being received toward broadband expansion, as many cities across the state will have to prioritize spending ARP funds on needs such as water and wastewater infrastructure.
Eugene has allocated $150,000 for an unspecified broadband expansion project, intended to "evaluate and plan out broadband needs and expansion for the community and prepare the city to seek state, federal and private funding to complete the expansion."
Salem-area lawmakers have expressed significant interest in using Rescue Plan funds for local Internet access projects, including $1.7 million for a wireless project in Polk County, $2.3 million for Yamhill County, and $1 million for emergency firefighting facilities near Silverton.
Clackamas County Commissioners allocated $2.5 million to build new fiber to rural and unserved areas, which will enable nearby providers to offer new service to those homes and businesses.
Polk County Commissioners have approved plans from two ISPs to bring Internet access to up to 1,000 residents across four broadband initiatives. A portion of the money to fund these projects is expected to come from State Senator Brian Boquist’s funding allotment for capital projects, while the rest will come from ARPA.
Hillsboro is building a new municipal network called HiLight, but Ziply Fiber will compete with recently announced 2 and 5 Gbps service offerings. The heightened speeds are expected to be available to all Ziply customers by June. HiLight expects to be able to offer service to 50% of Hillsboro residents by 2025, and offers speeds of up to 10 Gbps. The total network price tag is $100 million, which includes $3 million in ARPA dollars.
Pennsylvania has dedicated $20.6 million in ARPA dollars to schools and libraries. Increased federal funding prompted the state to establish the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, which will “coordinate the broadband rollout, including construction of new towers, lines and equipment.”
The York County Board of Commissioners voted 3-0 to allocate $25 million of $87 million in ARP funding to build a middle-mile fiber network, as recommended by the York County Fiber Optic Task Force. The task force recommended the county construct an open access, middle mile network with seven rings, which can be utilized by multiple ISPs to provide fiber Internet service to residents and businesses.
Centre County officials allocated $175,000 of the county’s $31.5 million in Rescue Plan funds toward a consulting contract with CTC Technology and Energy to develop a strategic plan to expand broadband access in the county.
Washington County will direct $30 million in ARPA dollars to bring fiber to rural residents. The county has partnered with a number of private providers for the project.
Philadelphia’s Office of Innovation and Technology has suggested using ARPA dollars to help fund the city’s five-year Digital Equity Plan. The plan includes “expanding access to devices, connectivity, training, and improving the overall digital ecosystem.”
Beaver County has earmarked $20 million in ARPA funding to connect about 2,000 un- or underserved households. The county has already surveyed residents to identify “broadband dead zones,” which were found to include about 2,300 households and businesses.
Allentown city officials are considering using $7 million of the city’s $57 million in American Rescue Plan funds to launching a city-owned broadband network, to ultimately make high-speed fiber Internet service available throughout Allentown and at a subsidized price or free for low-income residents. The city is partnering with Allentown-based software company Iota Communications to conduct a feasibility study for the project.
Perry County Commissioners are considering allocating $9 million of relief funds toward expanding access to broadband in underserved areas of the county over the next two years. Earlier this year, the county issued an RFP seeking bids from broadband providers. The county received three responses from ISPs proposing a range of options. County Commissioners have yet to select which provider they will work with.
Providence will spend $1 million on broadband infrastructure, though there are no further details at this time.
The state, pushed by a coalition of economic development, agriculture, and business leaders, is considering spending $400 million of its Rescue Plan funds to invest in new fiber infrastructure and incent an additional $200 million in private investment to increase Internet access.
The state has decided to devote $500 million in Rescue Plan funds to a broadband expansion program to which "local counties and providers are able to apply" with preference given to "distressed and at-risk counties." As it stands now, the state’s Financial Stimulus Accountability Group recommends a two-phased approach in providing $400 million in grants for “unserved locations” with Phase 1 applications due in the Fall of 2021 and grant awards allocated by Spring 2022. Funding priority would be given to projects proposed for “distressed and at-risk counties and projects which have a local match committed,” as well as projects that could be completed within two years. The remaining $100 million to be used to fund three specific types of broadband adoption initiatives: $50 million for a residential service subsidy, $44 million to connect community anchor institutions, and $2 million for a free public Wi-Fi project in the downtown business districts of metro areas. There is also some discussion of new legislation aimed at Tennessee's preemption law to facilitate expansion.
Metro Nashville Public Schools is to receive $4.2 million in ARPA dollars to subsidize broadband access and devices for schools and libraries and serve students who are not currently able to access the Internet.
Roane County will dedicate $1.5 million to expanding broadband. Comcast will receive $930,000 and Twin Lakes will receive $555,300. The two private providers will then apply for state funding.
In Hamilton County, Volunteer Energy Cooperative has proposed a $6.2 million fiber buildout to 1,395 homes surrounding Birchwood, funded in part by Rescue Plan dollars. The county will contribute a 10 percent match to the project, or about $616,000. The buildout is one of the many projects proposed by the cooperative (totalling $125 million) to connect underserved areas.
Lexington Electric System and the City of Lexington are collaborating to bring broadband to the community. With an anticipated price tag of $50 million, the project will need several funding sources. An ARPA grant is expected to cover about $20 million, so the city will make a bond issue for the rest. If this grant is received Henderson County has agreed to a 10 percent match from $300,000 to $500,000.
Lincoln County is awarding $1 million in ARPA funding to the recipient of a state broadband grant. The chosen ISP will expand its existing service area to connect un- and under-served residents in the area. Five ISPs that currently serve the county – Fayetteville Public Utilities, Charter Spectrum, Mediacom, Ardmore Telephone Companies and United Communications. The county hopes to see all five compete for the funding.
The Greeneville Light and Power System (GLPS) has received approval to begin building out a broadband network within city limits. It hopes to eventually extend this network to the rest of Greene county. The initial project has a $14 million price tag and is expected to connect over 9,000 locations, or about a quarter of GLPS’s customers. Greene County’s Mayor has voiced support for the project, asserting that the county was “prepared to pledge $2 million in funding to the broadband project with money the county received through the American Rescue Plan,” but this funding will only be accessible to GLPS once it is approved by the county commission.
$53.4 million in Rescue Plan dollars will bring broadband to Bedford, Franklin, Giles, Lincoln, Marshall, Maury, Moore and Williamson Counties. United Communications, Middle Tennessee Electric, and Duck River Electric will be the ones to connect the 14,000 underserved residents across these counties. The funding comes from a $446 million pool, intended to connect over 150,000 underserved homes and businesses in 58 counties across Tennessee. A broadband tax moratorium under Governor Bill Lee has served to lubricate broadband rollout and expanded connectivity.
The Carter County Budget Committee has voted unanimously to recommend spending $2.5 million to help expand infrastructure to the most remote parts of the county and leverage those funds to go after additional state funding. The money would be used as a 30 percent match to make the bid more competitive for state grants, according to the Johnson City Press.
The mayor's office in Memphis originally pushed to spend $25 million of the city's $161 million on expanding broadband access, but recent reports suggest that the City Council, which holds budgeting power, is instead focused on other projects.
In Cumberland County, Mayor Allen Foster has proposed a $3 million effort to help close the digital divide locally. The proposed funding comes from a pot of $11.74 million in Rescue Plan funds. The state of Tennessee is “tentatively set to require a 70% match,” but Foster is looking to have the county fund a portion of the 30% of cost that providers must contribute in order to receive funding.
The city of Brownsville Commission has approved a plan to use $19.5 million of $65 million in ARP funds to construct a 95-mile public middle-mile fiber network.
City leaders of Victoria have allocated a portion of $14.5 million in ARP funds toward conducting a feasibility study to understand ways the city can improve broadband access. City leaders recognize that improving broadband access is important to Victoria residents and have designated it as one of five main community spending needs. City leaders are seeking input from the community on how to spend incoming funds.
The Lake Cities (Corinth, Lake Dallas, and the Towns of Hickory Creek and Shady Shores) have put out an RFI in search of a private provider to develop a partnership to improve broadband access in the region in two ways. First, in the development of a fiber ring to connect government buildings and operations to improve capacity and lower prices (either via joint-trenching or by building and leasing back to the local government). And second, to facilitate the development of a last-mile FTTH network to improve connectivity for residences. The interlocal agreement cites speed and reliability concerns by residents from the incumbent providers, which include Lumen (formerly CenturyLink) and Charter Spectrum. The Lake Cities have committed $4 million in Rescue Plan funds so far.
Harlingen city officials have approved allocating $4 million of the city’s $21 million in Rescue Plan relief funds toward a project to expand high-speed Internet access to all currently unserved city homes. City commissioners recently agreed to contract with Houston-based Cobb Fendley & Associates to conduct a $100,000 feasibility study. The Harlingen school district will fund half the cost of the study.
The Texas State Legislature is considering passing Senate Bill 8, which would allocate $500 million of the state’s $41 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to the comptroller’s office for broadband infrastructure, including $75 million to the state’s broadband pole replacement program.
San Marcos, though recently voting to pursue partnerships instead of commit to a municipal network using its existing I-Net, is considering using some of its funds to subsidize Internet access for low-income households.
Brown County Commissioners are considering allocating $500,000 of $7 million in relief funds toward building fiber infrastructure to improve communication at Bangs and Early school districts.
Amarillo, in partnership with fixed wireless provider Airspan, has dedicated $4 million in ARPA dollars through the Broadband Development Office of the State of Texas’s Operation Connectivity program to deploy a free 4G wireless network for unconnected students. The project is expected to bring speeds of 100 x 100 Mbps to students within a 50 square mile area by the summer of 2022, and will allow citizens and students to access "education, healthcare, and city services."
Dallas City Manager T.C. Boradnax has proposed using $43 million of the city's $355 million to close the digital divide. Recommendations from consulting firm CTC Technology and Energy include expanding the city's private cellular network, working with the school district, or building a municipal network.
Port Arthur is seeking community input regarding a plan to dedicate $1 million of $26 million total ARPA dollars to install Wi-Fi in public parks.
Weber County has named new broadband infrastructure as one of a handful of directions it may go with part of its $14 million, though it continues to solicit input from cities and nonprofits.
Mantua, a community located in Box Elder County, has received over $5 million in ARPA funding towards an $11 million broadband project to connect more than 3,000 Mantua residents. Among the broadband uses the community has in mind are telehealth, remote learning, and e-commerce.
The state of Vermont has created the Broadband Construction Grant Program, which will distribute $116 million in American Rescue funds to “Communications Union Districts (CUDs), small communications carriers, and/or Internet Service Providers working in conjunction with a CUD to cover construction costs related to broadband projects” to build out to all unserved and underserved residents. Municipalities are not eligible for the funding.
Vermont’s first $10 million has gone to four CUDs for planning and engineering work. The funding comes from a $150 million pot of Rescue Plan funds.
In May, state lawmakers reached a deal to spend $150 million of the state’s Rescue Plan funds on broadband expansion. As VTDigger reported when the deal was struck, the legislation makes “communication union districts a centerpiece of the state’s efforts to extend fiber networks to rural areas that lack adequate Internet service,” though the bill does allow for small Internet Service Providers (providers who operate in no more than five state counties) to receive funding if they commit to building out service to all addresses where they propose to serve. In addition, $3.2 million has been set aside for digital inclusion efforts, including a subsidy for monthly access.
Officials in the town of Monroe are considering using roughly $34,000 of incoming relief funds to complete a last-mile broadband project connecting all residents to high-speed Internet.
Grafton County Commissioners are considering using $250,000 of the county’s $17.4 million in federal ARP funds to expand Internet access by connecting towns and cities to a proposed 350-mile fiber Internet network.
State Governor Ralph Northam and the Virginia State Legislature have agreed to devote $700 million of $4.3 billion in federal aid the state is receiving to broadband expansion. The funds will be distributed through the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI), which distributes grants to ISPs who partner with government entities to apply for the funds. While publicly owned entities will be eligible to receive funds, most of the grants are expected to go to private providers.
The Suffolk City Council has approved a plan to spend $8 million in ARP relief funds to improve Internet access throughout the city. Of the $8 million, $5 million will go toward the first phase of a regional project constructing a public middle-mile fiber ring, and $3 million will go toward last-mile expansion projects.
The Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to use $2.1 million of the county’s $4.4 million in American Rescue Plan funds as a match for a VATI grant. The goal of the county’s project is to make fiber infrastructure accessible to all homes in Prince Edward County, as well as some premises in Lunenburg and Cumberland that are part of the project area.
Franklin County is moving forward on two projects to bring fiber and some wireless access to as many as 5,000 locations, working with Shentel as well as River Street Networks. It will invest $7.7 million of its Rescue Plan funds to do so, pairing it with $11 million in private funding.
Loudoun County Board of Supervisors allocated $12.4 million of the county’s $80.3 million in American Rescue Plan funds toward a $71.9 million dollar broadband expansion project. The county, in partnership with two companies, hopes to run fiber optic cable along existing power lines, expanding broadband access to unserved and underserved areas of the county. The county has also applied for VATI grants to fund the project.
Cumberland County Board of Supervisors have agreed to commit up to $200,000 of the county’s $1.9 million in Rescue Plan funds toward a broadband project in partnership with Kinex Telecom, Inc. Cumberland County is expected to make a match contribution totaling $1.2 million. The funding for the project, which will span three counties, includes: $9.9 million in FCC grants already awarded to Kinex, a $6 million SBA 15-year loan already approved for Kinex, $6.3 million in project funding from Kinex, a $15 million VATI grant if awarded, and matching contributions from the three counties.
Gloucester County Board of Supervisors approved using $2 million in American Rescue Plan funds to expand high-speed Internet access to unserved homes and businesses.
Montgomery County is partnering with local provider GigaBeam and Appalachian Power to expand connectivity across the county. Montgomery is contributing $6 million in ARPA dollars towards the total $50 million project price tag–the remainder of the funding will come from investments by Gigabeam and Appalachian and the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI). The buildout is expected to reach “8,822 residents, businesses and community organizations.”
Hanover County Board of Supervisors allotted $16.9 million of the county’s $20.1 million in relief funds to extend broadband infrastructure to all county residents who are currently underserved. Whether the county pursues the project is contingent on the success of a Virginia Telecommunications Initiative (VATI) grant application.
The Accomack County Board of Supervisors is considering allocating $1 to 5 million of ARP funds for local broadband expansion. County Supervisors plan to request that A&N Electric Cooperative and the Eastern Shore Broadband Authority put together plans detailing how the potential funding could be utilized. During a public hearing conducted by the Board in June, 10 out of 24 speakers cited broadband access as the top issue they wanted addressed with relief funds.
The Bedford Town Council and the County are considering partnering to contribute as much as $14.8 million to bring universal broadband access to the region. The county broadband initaitive is currently in negotiatives with ISPs.
Amherst County officials have targeted $2 million of the county’s $6.1 million in relief funds toward ongoing broadband expansion efforts.
Fauquier County Supervisors are considering using $10.5 million in ARP funds toward a recently approved $64 million project to make fiber Internet service available to the county’s underserved areas. Whether the county pursues the project is contingent on the success of a $15 million state grant application.
Gov. Jay Inslee and the state legislature have allocated $260 million of Washington’s Rescue Plan funds to provide grants for broadband infrastructure projects. While the bulk of that money is aimed at expanding broadband deployment, $5 million is set aside for “broadband equity and affordability grants,” according to the legislative language. Eligible applicants for the large pot of money include: local governments; ports; public utility districts; federally-recognized tribes; nonprofit organizations; nonprofit cooperative organizations; and “multiparty entities comprised of a combination of public entity members or private entity members.”
Leaders of Skagit County have earmarked $1 million of $25 million in ARP funds to extend the county’s broadband network and support ongoing projects to expand Internet access.
The Lewis County Commission allocated $500,000 in relief funds for broadband projects. The Lewis County Public Utility District (PUD) is currently undertaking an ambitious $130 million project to build a countywide fiber-to-the-home network. In May, the PUD asked County Commissioners for an allocation of $1 million in ARP funds for the project; the PUD is expected to issue a formal request to the county to allocate additional funding for broadband.
Snohomish County has dedicated $5 million in American Rescue Plan funding to conduct an initial broadband study which will help the county locate unserved and underserved communities to focus on for future projects funded by ARPA.
The city of Anacortes is requesting $9.8 million to expand its citywide fiber-to-the-home network. Getting the funds would allow the city, according to City Administrative Services Director Emily Schuh, to speed up construction by as much as a year.
West Virginia has dedicated $90 million in ARPA funding towards an $100 million pot called the West Virginia Broadband Development Fund. The fund flows in part to the West Virginia Broadband Investment Plan, which Governor Jim Justice has coined his “Billion-Dollar Broadband Strategy.” The second grant application round for the investment plan closed in December of 2021, and Justice is poised to release $4 million to connect 650 locations in West Virginia with 55 miles of fiber.
The state of West Virginia will distribute nearly $39 million in ARPA funding to 53 schools, school districts, and other education organizations. The funding will be used to purchase laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, and other short-term connectivity solutions for students.
In preparation for the $138 million in Rescue Plan funding the state will devote to expanding broadband access, West Virginia is mapping the current state of broadband within its borders.
Huntington City Council approved $132,000 to hire a broadband consultant in June to develop a plan to improve Internet access in the city, and has an Innovation Plan that calls for further investment in "a large broadband project" in a handful of areas in town.
The Marion County Commission is considering how to spend $10.8 million in federal relief funds headed its way, and extending broadband infrastructure is a top priority for many County Commissioners. While the County Commission has not officially designated which projects it will fund, Commissioners are focused on extending broadband to county residents who currently lack reliable Internet access.
The West Virginia Legislature has proposed House Bill 4001, which would create an oversight commission, expand middle mile infrastructure, help update poles and install conduit, and support right of way mapping efforts.
The state of Wisconsin announced in May an infusion of $100 million in funding from its Rescue Plan allocation to go to broadband projects via the state's Public Service Commission. Applications for the first round were due at the end of July. This is in addition to the proposed biennial budget, which would include another $152 million in state funding for broadband. Community broadband advocates can celebrate the fact that funding priority will be given to proposed broadband networks “owned, operated by, or affiliated with local governments, non-profits, and co-operatives.”
The Oconto County Board approved a plan to spend $3.25 million of $7.4 million in federal ARP funds to improve broadband access throughout the county. The broadband funding is going to various projects, detailed here.
The Eau Claire County Board has approved a plan to spend $2.8 million on broadband expansion in rural areas. With a population of 105,000, the eastern half of the county especially suffers from a lack of hi-speed, reliable coverage.
Sauk County has allocated $1 million of its $12.4 million towards broadband expansion in the least connected, northwest parts of the county, and is partnering with LaValle Telephone Cooperative with emphasis placed on the homes of students who have struggled to stay online over the last year. Local leaders will use the Rescue Plans to bolster their application for additional funds from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission for the project.
Appleton city officials have allocated $2 million of the city’s $14.9 million in ARP funds to expand broadband infrastructure to connect the new Appleton Public Library with high-speed Internet access.
An administrator from Door County is seeking approval to create a broadband-oversight committee and use a portion of the county’s ARPA funding to bring on a broadband coordinator.
The Superior City Council has approved a $31 million proposal to build a city owned fiber network, which Mayor Jim Paine is considering budgeting $10 million in federal relief funds for. The city council would have to approve the $10 million allocation. The proposed network would be open access, and therefore, it would be utilized by multiple ISPs to provide residential Internet service.
Nonprofit Directing Efforts to Improve Internet Access for Six Counties in Southern Pennsylvania
Nonprofit Alleghenies Broadband is leading a cohesive effort across a six-county region in south-central Pennsylvania to bring high-speed Internet access to areas that are unserved or underserved by reliable networks.
Part of its work is a recently completed Request for Proposals (RFP) in search of forming a series of public-private partnerships to help identify target areas and offer robust solutions to bring new infrastructure to the businesses and residents who need it most. As that process continues to unfold, however, the nonprofit is already working with city and county leaders to pursue a range of wireline and fixed wireless options that will result in better service and publicly owned infrastructure.
A Regional Approach
Formed in October 2020, Alleghenies Broadband is part of the Southern Alleghenies Planning & Development Commission. By coordinating efforts in six counties (Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fulton, Huntingdon, and Somerset, collectively representing about 500,000 residents), it hopes to address the broadband gaps scattered across the region. Somerset, Fulton, and Huntingdon seem to be in the worst shape at present: while many residents have access to cable service, large swaths of the counties are stuck with DSL or satellite service only, leading to median download speeds of just 3.7-8 Megabits per second (Mbps) (see Fulton and Huntingdon coverage maps below, with satellite-only areas in grey). The remaining three counties also have significant gaps where no wireline access is available, representing thousands of households with poor or no service.
Vermont’s New 10-Year Telecommunications Plan Centers Community Interests and Public-Private Partnerships
The Vermont Department of Public Service released its most recent 10-year telecommunications plan earlier this month, once again prioritizing Communication Union Districts (CUDs) as the key to closing the digital divide and connecting the 51,000 households that remain unserved and underserved throughout the state.
The nearly 400-page report outlines a community-centered plan to deploy infrastructure providing 100 megabits per second (Mbps) symmetrical broadband across the state, with capabilities to increase speeds when demand warrants it. The plan maintains that the two main ways to get there are via partnerships and fiber.
The report - which was developed in partnership with CTC Energy and Technology and Vermont-based Rural Innovations Strategies, Inc. - details the importance of optimizing the power of public-private partnership in maintaining that balance.
The plan comes off the heels of the state legislature passing H.B. 360, a $150 million broadband bill which was funded by the federal American Rescue Act Plan, in May. The bill, now Act 71, created the Vermont Community Broadband Board and tasked the board with helping to fund and organize the deployment of broadband infrastructure for Vermont's nine CUDs.
CUDs were created in 2015, when the state legislature passed a law allowing two or more towns to join forces as a municipal entity and build communication infrastructure together. The hope was that CUDs would prompt local areas to assume responsibility and control over the broadband solution in their areas by collaborating with ILECs and ISPs. They succeeded and have been rapidly gaining steam over the last few years, with, for example, some DV Fiber currently working to serve upwards of 20 towns in the Southeast corner of the state, and NEK CUD working in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom to serve more than 50.