Gov. Lamont: $40M in federal funds to provide internet to underserved areas of Connecticut
Gov. Ned Lamont received federal approval to release more than $40 million in American Rescue Plan funds to help provide broadband internet service to underserved areas of Connecticut.
Rep. Jahana Hayes says Connecticut's digital divide is sharply apparent in her home district.
"Forty percent of school children use public Wi-Fi in order to access the internet for school,” she says. "In the northwest corner of my district, I have about 275 miles of road where there's no cell phone service. About 18,000 homes have no access to internet."
Gov. Lamont compared the grant to the Roosevelt-era Rural Electrification Act.
"A lot of the divide, a lot of that last mile, a lot of that lack of connectivity is in our more rural areas, no surprise there,” he says. “You were disconnected from society unless you at that point had electricity, and now it's telecommunications, IT, high-speed broadband."
Lawmakers say the era of work from home and remote schooling shows high-speed internet isn't a luxury anymore.
"It took for a pandemic to hit to really show us that that work needed to be done 50 years ago, so we have to be committed and steadfast to getting it done right now,” Hayes says.
Lamont says over $100 million more in federal funding waits for future Connecticut broadband projects.
"The total is about $142 million. We've got some innovative ideas, we're taking them to treasury and look forward to approval on that before the end of the year,” he says.
State officials say internet service providers participating in the infrastructure project will also participate in the FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program, which is a $30 per month subsidy for under-privileged families.