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What’s New in Digital Equity: Governors Celebrate Federal Internet Spending

Plus, one Florida city is launching a new digital navigators program; Nebraska names a new state broadband director; a Texas city is launching a digital inclusion art contest for students; and more.

Closeup of a pile of $100 bills.
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:


This week, the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced the allocation of funding from the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program for expanding access to high-speed Internet.

“States can now plan their Internet access grant programs with confidence and engage with communities to ensure this money is spent where it is most needed,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communication and Information Alan Davidson in the announcement.

The awards range from $27 million to more than $3.3 billion. Nineteen states received allocations of more than $1 billion. The top 10 allocations are for the states of Alabama, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

States that have received this funding will have 180 days to prepare and submit plans to NTIA for the use of these funds.

California received one of the largest allocations of funding with an award of $1.86 billion.

“With the president’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, billions of dollars are headed our way, boosting our efforts to provide all Californians — regardless of ZIP code — access to the Internet,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom of this allocation.

Another state with an allocation over 1 billion is Michigan, at $1.5 billion. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called the award “a game-changing investment to expand access to reliable, affordable high-speed Internet to 210,000 more homes across Michigan.”

Massachusetts, with a $147.4 million funding allocation, has also seen leaders celebrate the support.

“With these funds, Massachusetts will build on ongoing work to ensure that our residents can access the affordable and reliable broadband service they need to work, learn, access health-care resources and connect with loved ones,” Gov. Maura Healey said in a press release.

This follows last week’s announcement of $930 million in federal funding for Internet infrastructure expansion through the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure program.

More information about the allocations to states, the District of Columbia and territories announced this week can be found on the Internet for All website. (Julia Edinger)


A new Digital Navigators program is coming to Leon County, Fla., to offer individuals support in accessing affordable Internet. The Digital Navigators model has been highlighted as a catalyst for digital inclusion work nationwide.

For Leon County, the program is made possible through a collaboration between community leaders: Leon County Schools; the Rotary Club of Tallahassee Southside; the Greater Apalachee Ridge Estates Neighborhood Association; and Comcast.

Leon County Schools and partners will lead a nine-month campaign called #TallahasseeConnects to train and deploy Digital Navigators to help expand enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program and other eligible discounts. (Julia Edinger)


Nebraska has tapped Patrick Haggerty to be the state’s first broadband director, officials there announced in a statement.

Haggerty will lead Nebraska’s broadband office, which has been codified in the state and works to coordinate broadband deployment, serving as part of Gov. Jim Pillen’s executive cabinet. Haggerty brings to the role more than a decade of private-sector telecommunications experience, having worked for Qwest Communications, CenturyLink and Charter Communications.

Haggerty is slated to start work as of July 17, and he’s got a big job in front of him. Nebraska, like every other state in the country, is receiving an influx of federal funding aimed at getting all residents and businesses in the state connected to high-speed Internet. The Nebraska Broadband Office is currently overseeing the roughly $405 million awarded to the state through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program.

With support from the Nebraska Department of Transportation, the broadband office is currently working to collect public input on a five-year action plan for use of the BEAD funds. (Zack Quaintance)


Finally, in Austin, Texas, this week, officials have launched the city’s fourth annual student digital inclusion art contest ArtConnect.

The contest is run by the Austin Financial Services Department. It’s intended to help draw attention to Digital Inclusion Week — which is slated for Oct. 1 through Oct. 7 — as well as to spotlight the more than 40,000 homes in Travis County that still lack reliable high-speed Internet.

Students aged 10 to 18 years old are invited to participate in the contest, which has submissions open now. Art can be submitted either online, via mail or in person, and the deadline for submissions is Aug. 31. The prizes are $400 for first place, $200 for second place and $100 for third place.

More information can be found on the contest’s website. (Zack Quaintance)
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.
Associate editor for <i>Government Technology</i> magazine.