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The Role of States in Expanding Broadband Access

Thu, March 05, 2020

State-level broadband work has dramatically increased over the last three years. States are focusing on the important role broadband plays in economic development. NTIA’s BroadbandUSA February webinar focused on how state governments are working to expand broadband access. The presentation reviewed current research, and gave an update on the growth of the agency’s State Broadband Leaders Network (SBLN).

Kathryn de Wit, Broadband Research Initiative Manager at Pew Charitable Trusts, shared new research conducted through Pew’s Broadband Research Initiative. Over the past year, the Initiative conducted a 50-state policy and program analysis, culminating in the state broadband policy explorer tool and a report that looks at the many ways to tackle the challenge of increasing broadband access.

Deana Perry, Executive Director of Broadband for the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, highlighted the state of Georgia’s role in bridging the connectivity gap. The state is implementing the Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative to increase broadband access across the state through data collection and mapping, broadband planning, and grant program development. The initiative is helping Georgia determine the level of investment appropriate for addressing the gaps in broadband services, providing technical assistance to local governments on mapping, cost modeling, and creating public-private partnerships.

Crystal Ivey, Broadband Director for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, provided an overview of the Tennessee Broadband Initiative. The initiative has created a grant program for unserved areas in the state; allowed nonprofit electric cooperatives to provide broadband services; and funded a program to facilitate broadband adoption. The Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Grant, with $20 million in available funding for 2020, focuses funds on areas lacking fixed, terrestrial speeds of 25/3 Mbps. Tennessee also has a Broadband Ready Communities program, a special designation given to communities that have adopted local policies which support broadband deployment.

The webinar highlighted the critical role states play in expanding broadband access. To listen to an archive of the webinar, visit the BroadbandUSA Website.

BroadbandUSA hosts monthly webinars on a variety of broadband topics. Follow us on Twitter @NTIAgov to get updates on NTIA and BroadbandUSA’s work.