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What’s New in Digital Equity: Colorado and New Hampshire BEAD Proposals Accepted

Plus, Indiana is getting more than $81 million in broadband funding, new research suggests AI is directly related to digital equity, and more.

A blue dollar sign layered over a circuit board.
Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens
This week in “What’s New in Digital Equity” — our weekly look at government digital equity and broadband news — we have a number of interesting items, which you can jump to with the links below:


As of Thursday morning, New Hampshire and Colorado are the latest in a series of states to see their initial proposals for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program approved by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The BEAD program is a $42.45 billion state grant program that was enacted through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Through BEAD, states, territories and Washington, D.C., received funding for the deployment and improvement of high-speed Internet networks.

“I congratulate the Colorado and New Hampshire state broadband offices for developing a strong proposal for how they will connect all of their state’s residents to high-speed Internet service,” NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson said in the announcement, noting the proposal acceptance means the states can move from planning to action.

This initial proposal phase follows the recent acceptance of all 50 states’ digital equity plans, which enabled them to request access to funding and begin BEAD program implementation. The initial proposals were submitted by all states on or before Dec. 27.

This approval allows New Hampshire to request funding from a pool of more than $196 million, and more than $826 million for Colorado.

“Colorado is transitioning from extensive planning to taking action to construct and extend broadband networks,” Colorado Broadband Office (CBO) Executive Director Brandy Reitter said in an announcement.

CBO will release a project area map in the coming weeks, which will display locations that are eligible for connectivity through BEAD funding. CBO will also release BEAD grant program guidelines for comment, and will begin taking BEAD applications this summer.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu touted the speed with which his state has built out its broadband infrastructure, indicating the work will continue to ensure the state’s competitiveness.

NTIA will continually approve initial proposals and provide updates on their statuses via the BEAD progress dashboard, which launched in October.

One year after the approval of initial proposals, states must submit a final proposal outlining the outcome of their subgrantee selection processes, and their plans to confirm coverage.


In other state news, Indiana has announced $81.5 million in funding for the final round of the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program, expected to bring broadband infrastructure to more than 34,000 homes and locations throughout the state.

“The program ensures that every resident has access to information which unlocks the door to opportunity and leads to a brighter, better connected future,” Gov. Eric J. Holcomb said in the announcement.

Already, $328 million in funding has been awarded through this program, bringing connectivity to more than 100,000 homes in the state. This particular program is just one part of the state’s $1 billion Next Level Connections infrastructure program.

More information about the awards in this final round are available on the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ website.


The state of New York’s digital equity work has moved along to the next stage, with Gov. Kathy Hochul sharing the application guidelines for the more than $11 million in funding available through grant programs. These programs, the Regional and Local Assistance Program and the Digital Equity Technical Assistance Fund, are part of the state’s ConnectALL Initiative. Applications will open June 17.

Guidelines were also issued for a precertification application, slated to open June 21, which will help Internet service providers access federal funding for broadband.

The state’s ongoing work related to the ConnectALL Initiative includes the Affordable Housing Connectivity Program, the ConnectALL Deployment County Partnerships Program, and the launch of a broadband map.


A new study released by HP Inc. and Oxford Economics suggests that artificial intelligence (AI) can increase digital equity disparities.

According to the study, government officials see AI as “an enabler of progress,” with 79 percent saying it will drive benefits for their organization. However, the majority of government officials surveyed believe that AI should be more heavily regulated so that it can safely be used in spite of data security and privacy risks.

The study underlines that delaying adoption of emerging technologies like AI can actually increase the digital divide, and increasing education is a priority for 86 percent of governments surveyed. But it concludes that leveraging AI and other emerging technologies can actually have positive impacts on digital equity as well, such as increasing access to digital education, helping fill skills gaps and mitigating labor shortages. Nearly half of government respondents, or 46 percent, indicated they have already begun using AI to increase access to digital education.


At the local level, a new study released by the Workforce Development Council (WDC) of Seattle-King County illustrates the digital divide and, specifically, its impact on non-native English speakers. These disparities are expected to increase as a result of the Affordable Connectivity Program ending.

However, it also underlines that there are measurable benefits of community-based digital navigation support. In July 2022, the WDC created a centralized resource that maps access to digital skills. The state has also invested in digital navigation as part of its workforce development strategy. Digital Navigator programming resulted in tangible benefits, according to the research: The program significantly supported BIPOC and low-income communities, and those of non-native English speakers.


In other local news, Walker County, Ga., is hosting community engagement sessions next week to better understand the challenges community members face in terms of Internet access.

According to the announcement, while only 13 percent of the population lacks access to broadband services, other barriers to getting people online exist. Those cited in the announcement include affordability, device access and digital skills.

The county is in the process of completing its digital connectivity plan, which ultimately aims to help achieve the “Broadband Ready Community” status. This would make the county eligible for state and federal grants.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.