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What's New in Digital Equity: Seattle Nets $400K for High-Speed Internet

Plus, Houston is hiring a broadband director; more governors issue comments on the federal BEAD funding for high-speed Internet; and U.S. senators are fighting for a broadband strategy.

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:


Seattle has received $393,200 to help get its residents connected to reliable and affordable high-speed Internet in their homes, the city has announced.

These funds come from the Federal Communications Commission's Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a federal initiative designed to help more people afford Internet. This grant program is directing funds to the civic and community levels in order to get more eligible folks to sign up.

Seattle said in its announcement that the city's digital equity program will coordinate this outreach, doing so by also partnering with community-based organizations that have Spanish, Vietnamese and Mandarin language as well as cultural experience. To do this, ACP enrollment centers will be set up in Seattle neighborhoods later this year.

“This new federal funding will allow us to explore more opportunities to reach residents and align them with crucial technology support lacking in some communities,” said Interim Seattle Chief Technology Officer Jim Loter in a statement. “Our digital equity program has strong ties to the community, and this funding allows us to make further inroads to help more people.”

Across the country, the ACP has so far reached more than 18 million households. (Zack Quaintance)


Governors and other state leaders have been celebrating the $42.5 billion in federal funding allocations from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program for expanding access to high-speed Internet since the June announcement. This week, the positive reactions continue as state leaders continue to talk about the potential impact.

For example, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham held a press conference celebrating the state's $675 million award, while the director of the Office of Broadband Access and Expansion shared plans to use this funding to modernize infrastructure, lay new fiber, and expand access to remote learning and telehealth.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis celebrated the $826 million from the BEAD program, with Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet noting that the program itself was modeled off of his bipartisan BRIDGE Act.

Meanwhile, in Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards stated that the nearly $1.4 billion the state was awarded will help the state meet its goal of eliminating the digital divide by 2029. (Julia Edinger)


Houston has posted a job listing for a digital broadband coordinator.

The candidate would join the city's Information Technology Services department. The position will be under the direction of the chief information officer with the city, and it will be tasked with "managing the development, implementation and coordination of broadband initiatives and projects aimed at improving residential Internet connectivity and affordability to close Houston's digital divide," according to the post.

Other responsibilities for the role include leading digital equity implementation efforts, coordinating ongoing data analysis to identify digital deserts in the city, locating funding for related projects, and more.

The posting can be read in full via the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. (Zack Quaintance)


The Michigan High-Speed Internet Office (MIHI) is completing a statewide effort to collect input on how best to use the $1.5 billion in federal BEAD funding the state is slated to receive, and once it is done, it plans to share its findings, the state has announced.

Dubbed the MI Connected Future Tour, there are 10 stops remaining. During the first segment of this tour, the MIHI gathered community input and feedback about what the most-pressing Internet needs were. They also tried to gauge community priorities around topics such as affordability, accessibility, digital skills development and access to devices.

The remaining 10 stops will now seek to present the findings of the first segment, giving an overview of the newly created Michigan Five-Year Action Plan as well as the Michigan Digital Equity Plan, which was created based on feedback collected during the first part of the tour. Before those plans are finalized, attendees will be able to weigh in with public comments during these final 10 stops.

A full list of the stops can be found through Michigan's website. (Zack Quaintance)


Several senators have come together this week to reintroduce the Proper Leadership to Align Networks (PLAN) for Broadband Act. This legislation calls for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to create a national strategy to close the divide to help mitigate fragmentation and overlapping in federal broadband expansion efforts.

As explained by Vermont Sen. Peter Welch, there are over 100 broadband programs at the federal level administered by 15 agencies; as such, there is a need to support these agencies in coordinating more effectively.

“We have a unique opportunity to ensure high-speed Internet reaches everyone, everywhere, so we have to get it right,” said Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel following the introduction of the PLAN for Broadband Act. “A big part of getting it right requires coordination.” (Julia Edinger)


Last week, stakeholders came together in Miami to discuss a road map for digital equity and the importance of centering inclusion in these efforts.

At this event, the Aspen Institute released the Aspen Principles for Latino Digital Success, a resource that highlights four key principles: digital access, digital skills, digital empowerment and investments for sustainability.

During the event, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Assistant Secretary of Communications and Information  Alan Davidson detailed how the digital divide disproportionately affects Latino communities. He also celebrated the release of the resource for digital success and underlined its role in reaching the goal to connect everyone. (Julia Edinger)


Involving Indigenous peoples and their insight in digital equity planning was a main topic during this week’s National Digital Inclusion Alliance webinar, Indigenous Digital Sovereignty: From the Digital Divide to Digital Equity.

Dr. Traci L. Morris presented during the webinar. Morris is a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and serves as executive director of the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University. She is also the owner of Homahota Consulting.

Morris explained that data about how the digital divide impacts tribal nations has significant gaps, as much of it comes from federal reports that are “conflicting and incomplete.”

Her advice to states as they create their digital equity plans to ensure Indigenous communities are not left behind is to involve tribes throughout the planning process: “Consult, consult, consult.” (Julia Edinger)
Associate editor for Government Technology magazine.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for <i>Government Technology</i>. 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.