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What’s New in Digital Equity: Hawaii’s Plan to Get Connected

Plus, the Broadband Infrastructure Playbook 3.0 arrives, the NTCA launches a new ad campaign promoting a sustainable Universal Service Fund, and more.

Closeup of a topographical map of Hawaii.
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:


A new state of Hawaii initiative, Connect Kākou, aims to ensure communities across the state have reliable and affordable access to Internet through both transformative statewide infrastructure and digital literacy programming.

The initiative was formally launched this week by Hawaii Lieutenant Gov. Sylvia Luke, who is leading the initiative in collaboration with the Hawaiʻi Broadband and Digital Equity Office, University of Hawaiʻi, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and several other state and county agencies.

“Connect Kākou conveys that this initiative is about everyone, not just the select few,” Luke said in the announcement, underlining that nearly 1 in 10 households in the state still don’t have Internet access.

The group is now soliciting public feedback to help inform the next steps. Public information sessions will be held to help the state gather community feedback. Public comment for the state’s initial proposal will be accepted until Dec. 10. After that, the state will submit the complete initial proposal to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration by the end of 2024.

“Our unique geography contributed to our state’s high percentage of residents without Internet,” said Kaʻala Souza, digital equity consultant, in the announcement. “Connect Kākou is designed to ensure that no one is left behind and our community has the tools to achieve digital literacy.”

Information about upcoming sessions and initiative updates can be found on the initiative website. (Julia Edinger)


This week, the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) and NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association have announced that the completed Broadband Infrastructure Playbook 3.0 is now available. It aims to help guide state broadband offices in their work to implement the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. States are required to complete their initial proposals for review by Dec. 27.

The first iteration of the playbook was created in response to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, aiming to map out key issues for states to address in their work to effectively and equitably implement BEAD program funding.

As the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has further defined BEAD requirements, the FBA and NTCA released a second version and have since released a series of four Playbook 3.0 modules to provide additional information and guidance. The first module from this playbook was launched in August 2023, and the third in September 2023. The full Broadband Infrastructure Playbook 3.0 combines all four modules into one comprehensive resource for state broadband offices.

More information about the playbook can be found on FBA’s website. (Julia Edinger)


The NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association is launching a new ad campaign to promote the Universal Service Fund (USF), officials have announced.

The campaign is called Broadband Built to Last and it’s aimed at educating both the public as well as policymakers. It aims to teach them how the USF can get and keep rural communities — specifically rural consumers — connected to high-speed Internet that they can afford.

This new campaign coincides with the NTCA 2023 Telecom Executive Policy Summit, which will bring together more than 100 rural broadband leaders. As for how the campaign will work, its messaging will promote the importance of making the USF sustainable. And it’s going to do so with content appearing in the tech and policy sections of Axios, as well as in Politico.

More information about the USF is available here. (Zack Quaintance)


Arizona is now seeking public comment on the second draft of its initial proposal for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, which is the federal initiative that is sending a historical amount of funding to the states to get Americans connected to high-speed Internet.

Opening up these plans for comment is part of what states must do to get their federal money, which in Arizona’s case stands to be nearly $1 billion. This second volume contains a detailed plan for how Arizona will competitively award sub-grants to applicants; information about labor standards and protections aimed at making sure BEAD investments are creating good, worthwhile jobs that are safe; and methods for the state ensuring the funds will create an available, diverse and highly skilled workforce.

Public comment is open from now through Dec. 5.

Interested parties can view the proposal and log their feedback here. (Zack Quaintance)


The state of Connecticut announced last week the federal approval of the state’s plan to invest a $70.9 million grant from the American Rescue Plan Capital Projects Fund. The plan aims to upgrade the Connecticut Education Network (CEN)’s network and cybersecurity infrastructure, connect up to 170 community anchor organizations to the CEN and expand public Wi-Fi access.

The plan has been dubbed “CEN Connect” and is made up of three key parts: CEN Next Generation Infrastructure; CEN Connect Municipalities, Libraries and Charter Schools; and CEN Connect Community Wi-Fi.

The first two parts are direct implementation projects intended to update and expand the capacity of the CEN. The third part is a competitive sub-grant program to improve Internet access in underserved communities. For the third part, application process information is forthcoming. (Julia Edinger)


Finally, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is launching an inquiry around increasing the minimum broadband speed benchmark and setting a gigabit goal for the future, the commission has announced.

Officials said in the announcement that this comes in light of how broadband has changed in recent years, specifically how it has become more central to everyday life, garnering historic and unprecedented support from bipartisan legislation at the federal level. The proposal that is specifically being examined is increasing the national fixed broadband speed benchmark to 100 Mbps for download and 20 Mbps for upload.

This inquiry also involves discussing the evidence to support these numbers as the standard. And on top of that, the FCC is seeking comment on separately setting a national goal of having 1 Gbps download speeds and 500 Mbps upload speeds for the future.

More information about all of this can be found via the FCC here. (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.