Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has revealed the state’s plans for closing the digital divide, aiming to connect all Virginians to affordable high-speed broadband. With an allocation of $1.48 billion in federal funds, Virginia will deploy high-speed internet networks to areas that currently lack broadband access.
Access to high-speed broadband has become a necessity in today’s digital world, allowing individuals to fully participate in daily life. Governor Youngkin emphasized the importance of this infrastructure in ensuring that all Virginians are connected and able to thrive in the modern era.
The plans include a 5-Year Plan and Volume 2 of the Initial Proposal, outlining Virginia’s strategy for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. These funds will be prioritized to reach the estimated 160,000 unserved homes, businesses, and community anchors that are currently without broadband.
Virginia has been a national leader in closing the digital divide, and the release of these plans further solidifies its commitment to universal broadband access. Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick highlighted that achieving universal broadband will allow the state to focus efforts and funding on promoting digital literacy, improving healthcare, and reducing costs for all residents.
The BEAD program is a nationwide initiative with a budget of $42.45 billion, aimed at expanding high-speed internet access through planning, infrastructure deployment, and adoption programs. In Virginia, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will administer the state’s $1.48 billion BEAD allocation, building upon the work of the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) to reach unserved regions.
Once universal broadband access is achieved, the DHCD will shift focus towards improving affordability and fostering adoption of broadband services. Director and Chief Broadband Advisor Bryan Horn emphasized the critical nature of broadband, comparing it to the importance of electricity in the last century. The administration aims to ensure that no communities are left behind in terms of broadband access.
The DHCD is welcoming public comments on Volume 2 of the BEAD Initial Proposal until September 19, 2023. Since 2017, Virginia has allocated over $935 million in state and federal funding for broadband infrastructure, connecting over 388,000 locations in 80 cities and counties. This investment has been supplemented an additional $1.1 billion in matching funds from local governments and internet service providers.
For more information about Virginia’s broadband efforts and to submit comments on Volume 2, visit the DHCD’s website at dhcd.virginia.gov/vati.
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