For entirely too many years, millions of U.S. citizens have struggled with little, if any, access to broadband. However, plans are evolving quickly now to resolve that problem.

Congress has approved dozens of funding programs that allocate billions for broadband. State legislators throughout the U.S. also have allocated billions for broadband connectivity. The broadband expansion already underway will open up thousands of additional projects, all of which will depend on the new connectivity. These efforts also will expand and improve the country’s internet infrastructure.

Large sums of federal funding for broadband will arrive in states via the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a federal agency that on May 13 released a notice of funding opportunity. The recent announcement references a $42.5 billion pool of funding that is available through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program.

Public officials, business owners, and school officials throughout the country have been eagerly waiting for funding for broadband expansions because the need is great. The federal funding, however, is pre-conditioned on statewide broadband deployment planning. Citizens, public officials, taxpayers, and representatives from the media may request planning documents to learn more about what to anticipate in the near future.

An allocation of $37 million available through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is advancing broadband deployment in Charleston, West Virginia. Officials recently appropriated funding for the first phase of a regional broadband effort that will expand internet connectivity across seven West Virginia counties. The Roane County Development Authority is coordinating the effort, and additional funding is available for other counties from state coffers that hold another $100 million for broadband deployment.

Florida’s governor recently announced $400 million in state funding for projects designed to increase rural broadband networks. These funds will be boosted by federal grant awards. Another $3.9 million from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program will fund high-speed broadband services in the town of Astatula and another $5 million from a federal program is available for the city of Fort Meade. Another recent Florida award of $1.4 million is available to Otter Creek for broadband deficiencies.

The city of Honolulu has been allocated $60 million for a project to expand broadband access to underserved areas. Delivery of this project will then enable the city to begin work on other connectivity-based infrastructure improvements such as an intelligent transportation system.

Officials in Baltimore have announced plans to create a publicly accessible broadband network. The project’s first phase has a budget of $6 million for construction of broadband infrastructure across 23 municipal recreation centers. A tentative budget of $29 million is assigned to the second phase which will consist of developing and commissioning a broadband network that allows public access to other parts of the city.

Erie County in New York recently completed a business plan based on $29 million in federal Covid-19 relief funding for broadband expansion. The project will include a 400-mile network of fiber optic lines to serve as a connectivity “backbone” across every town within the county. The plan also calls for three server hubs and 152 network “anchor” installations along critical infrastructure points.

Indiana’s Tippecanoe County will benefit from expanded broadband access for all citizens within county limits. Funding of $14.8 million is available for the initiative, which is part of a two-year plan. The broadband expansion effort will ultimately call for an investment of $38 million.

Officials in Mesa County, Colorado, will spend $178,000 to design a broadband initiative that will expand connectivity to unserved homes and businesses. Garfield County is advancing its $1.4 million plan for middle-mile fiber lines with the goal of extending broadband coverage across the entire county in Colorado. Additional counties in the state are expected to announce other plans.

Cuyahoga County, Ohio, has developed a plan to use $20 million in ARPA funding to provide uninterrupted access to high-speed internet for all of its communities. The initial plans will provide services to 25,000 homes. Another funding allocation of $75 million will construct a 125-mile ring of fiber optic lines in Summit County to enable internet access for the entire county and enhance county communications.

These projects will eventually coalesce into a broadband infrastructure that will improve education, public safety, access to health care, and new vitality to hundreds of underserved regions of the country. The connectivity also will provide for a huge boost in the quality of life and the well-being of all citizens in America. Contractors should closely monitor upcoming opportunities to get involved in this nationwide effort.

Mary Scott Nabers

As President and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., Mary Scott Nabers has decades of experience working in the public-private sector. A well-recognized expert in the P3 and government contracting fields, she is often asked to share her industry insights with top publications and through professional speaking engagements.