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What’s New in Digital Equity: How Many State Digital Equity Plans Have Been Accepted?

Plus, a mapping tool helps inform the permitting process, tribes in New Mexico get $10 million for digital equity, and more.

US map with cyan light flares coming up from it over black background
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:


The list of states that have had digital equity plans accepted by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) continues to grow.

Maine became the first state to reach the milestone in February. Since then, 22 other states have had their plans accepted, too, including South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

As of Thursday afternoon, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia have also had plans accepted.

The development of these plans was supported by the State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program, which provided states with funding for the planning process. The amount of funding received varied by state.

All 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have submitted their plans to NTIA; plans will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis.

The Digital Equity Act is a key part of the federal Internet for All initiative, providing $2.75 billion to promote digital inclusion and connect people to digital skills, technology and access for the digital economy.

More information about which states have had plans accepted and how much funding they received to develop those plans can be found on the Internet for All website.

NTIA also plans to launch the $1.44 billion Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program in the coming months. (Julia Edinger)


In other federal news from the NTIA, a new mapping tool called the NTIA Permitting and Environmental Information Application aims to help grant recipients understand what permits are required in the process of expanding high-speed Internet service.

The interactive mapping tool helps recipients of federal broadband grants identify permit requirements early to avoid environmental impacts and prevent delays in deployment projects, enabling coordination with permitting agencies prior to the application process. The tool is powered by Esri technology.

NTIA also released a tutorial video to offer training on how the tool can be used through the planning and deployment process. (Julia Edinger)


Colorado has announced new grants for broadband expansion in the state.

The grants are made possible by the U.S. Treasury’s Capital Funds Project. While their size is unclear, it will be augmented with monies from previously awarded grants for broadband expansion that were reduced in size due to a challenge process. A total of five new projects have received money, with more information about each available here.

The full announcement from the Colorado Broadband Office can be found here. (Zack Quaintance)


As announced last week, $10 million from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund will support multipurpose facilities for tribes in New Mexico.

The investment will fund an initiative called the Tribal Library Broadband-Ready Facility Improvement Program. Upon its completion, all facilities will be able to provide access to computers and the Internet to help support digital inclusion within tribes. The facilities will serve people across seven Pueblos, tribes and Indian Nations. The funding for this program comes from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“Whether completing homework, conducting research, or operating in the digital economy, these libraries serve as an essential hub for communities around New Mexico,” said U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján in the announcement. (Julia Edinger)


In county news, Walker County, Ga., has been awarded $30,000 from a nonprofit impact fund called Connect Humanity to support the county’s participation in the Appalachian Digital Accelerator.

The accelerator is an initiative to support communities in their development of custom connectivity plans. This aligns with the timing of many states having their digital equity plans accepted; as these states prepare for an influx of funding, municipalities can prepare to make use of those funds as they become available.

Connect Humanity selected 50 Appalachian communities to participate in the initiative based on their ability to meet the following criteria: community leadership, financial capacity to manage a federal grant, and connectivity needs. (Julia Edinger)
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.
Nikki Davidson is a data reporter for <i>Government Technology</i>. She’s covered government and technology news as a video, newspaper, magazine and digital journalist for media outlets across the country. She’s based in Monterey, Calif.