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What’s New in Digital Equity: Federal Broadband Bills to Watch

Plus, Nevada gets $250 million for broadband, data unveils the barriers to digital equity for Asian Americans, and the federal government is eyeing 6G.

The U.S. Capitol at night is lit up in front of cloudy sky.
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:


There are currently several noteworthy pieces of legislation that address digital equity at the federal level.

Last week, the House passed House Resolution 4510, which includes the Proper Leadership to Align Networks (PLAN) for Broadband Act as a provision. The bipartisan and bicameral PLAN for Broadband Act was created in response to a 2022 Government Accountability Office report that found federal broadband efforts overlap and called for a national strategy.

This piece of legislation went to the Senate May 16 for consideration; it was read and referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

Also of note this week is continued discussion over the future of the Affordable Connectivity Program. The federal subsidy program’s end is not a surprise, especially to those who have been advocating for its continuation — a long list, including the Biden-Harris administration, a coalition of governors, a group of senators and a variety of other organizations. 

Congress has taken action to continue the program, specifically with the January introduction of the Affordable Connectivity Program Extension Act; H.R. 6929 and Senate 3565 are companion bills representing this legislation. Voting on these bills has not taken place yet.

Now, H.R. 8466, the Affordable Connectivity Program Improvement and Extension Act of 2024, has been introduced in the House to fund the program through Fiscal Year 2024 with no additional taxpayer burden. The legislation is supported by The Internet and Television Association (NCTA), whose statement underlines the success of the program.

Advocates are not giving up on the program’s continuation, and individuals can get involved by contacting their representatives in Congress to urge them to support continued funding for this program.

Track the progress of these various bills at


This week, Nevada officials announced the creation of the Nevada Middle Mile Network. This 2,500-mile, open access, fiber-optic network will be constructed through the allocation of $250 million, the distribution of which was announced this week.

This network is part of the state’s High Speed Nevada Initiative and is intended to expand network capacity between urban and rural regions of the state. It aims to help the Office of Science, Innovation and Technology (OSIT) bring connectivity to more than 40,000 unserved or underserved locations in the state.

“Nevada requires significant investments in middle-mile infrastructure to support future last-mile residential investments,” OSIT Director Brian Mitchell said in the announcement. “This project is a big step towards meeting our goals.”

More information about the network can be found online.


In other state news, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)’s new program, Home Stretch for Difficult to Serve Properties, has been awarded $19.6 million in funding. It will be administered by the department’s Office of Statewide Broadband.

The program aims to provide Internet access to 2,400 unserved households in the state during its first round. This work will be complemented by that of the Home Stretch for Public Housing program, awards for which will be announced in the coming weeks.

Both programs are part of DHCD’s initiative to connect the remaining unserved Maryland households; as of April 2024, 21,000 Maryland households are still unserved. Both programs are funded through the U.S. Treasury’s American Rescue Plan Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund. More information about the awards announced on Friday can be found on DHCD’s website.


A report published this month by an organization called Asian Americans Advancing Justice aims to provide insight into specific challenges or barriers that affect Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities in achieving digital equity.

The report underlines that more than 10 percent of the AANHPI population still does not have access to the devices they need at home. Among respondents, 11.8 percent had access to only one device. And while 90 percent of households do have some level of Internet access in their households, the quality varies. Fourteen percent of respondents noted dissatisfaction with their current Internet access.

And notably, the vast majority of respondents — more than 85 percent — would like to see programs that aid in computer literacy, technical assistance and language translation become more widely available.


The BroadbandOhio Community Accelerator Program, which is a planning and capacity-building program intended to help the state of Ohio maximize the impact of historic federal broadband funding, has announced its third cohort.

The first cohort participating in this program was announced in June 2022, the second in August 2023, and the third on Wednesday. Five teams will participate in this third cohort. Participants will receive support to help their communities prepare for incoming federal funding. The third round teams represent the city of Canton and the counties of Cuyahoga, Guernsey, Hancock and Summit.

The program is a collaboration between the Department of Development’s BroadbandOhio office and Ohio State University Extension.


In other news at the federal level, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a request for comment (RFC) on Tuesday seeking information about how federal policies can support 6G technology development.

While some experts are still trying to understand 5G, 6G is emerging on the horizon. Both 5G and 6G are cellular network technologies, but 6G will offer connectivity at higher speeds.

Now, NTIA’s RFC will help guide the federal government’s role in the development and deployment of 6G. The RFC asks several questions to gain insight about security around 6G, including how it could improve network resiliency during disaster recovery. Comments are due 90 days from the RFC's Federal Register publication on Thursday.
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.