IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

What’s New in Digital Equity: State Digital Hubs Track Broadband Investments

Plus, support remains strong for continuing the Affordable Connectivity Program, a Massachusetts planning program expands and Alabama gets $150 million in broadband funding.

Screenshot of Maryland Broadband Hub landing page
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:


Maryland and West Virginia launched or updated virtual hubs this week to display broadband expansion efforts.

The Maryland Broadband Hub’s launch was announced by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). This hub features mapping and links to resources to help Maryland constituents — and broadband providers — learn about the state’s data analysis on existing broadband service. The website, and the inclusion of data on a publicly accessible map, were required by Maryland Senate Bill 66.

The hub includes the Maryland Broadband Explorer, the Data Collection Compare Tool and a Grant Awards Dashboard. The first allows users to search specific addresses to check service status. The second compares data from the Maryland Broadband Explorer with that of the Federal Communications Commission’s National Broadband Map. The third shows where the Office of Statewide Broadband is, or has, supported broadband expansion.

Those are the three main components, but the hub also offers resources and information to help increase transparency on the state’s broadband efforts. According to the announcement, 98 percent of Marylanders have access to broadband Internet.

According to DHCD Secretary Jake Day, the hub aims to “allow local communities to identify locations with the most need to ensure our resources are leaving no one behind.”

In a similar vein, a significant update to the West Virginia Infrastructure Hub website was announced by Gov. Jim Justice this week: the newly launched Investment Dashboard.

This dashboard allows users to see how infrastructure projects across the state are funded, with the ability to track them by category. It also will help enable users to gain insights about successful projects to tailor their grant applications more effectively.

While not limited to broadband-related infrastructure projects, as the dashboard also includes categories like environmental remediation and public transportation, the hub is designed to help ensure efficient distribution of funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. (Julia Edinger)


A new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) survey unveiled today highlights the impact of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). More specifically, the data suggests that more than two-thirds of households that currently benefit from the ACP were unconnected prior to their enrollment in the program. The reason for this, according to 80 percent of respondents, was affordability. The survey also details that 77 percent of respondents say that losing their ACP benefit would disrupt their service.

“Thanks to today’s survey data, leaders making the decisions about ACP’s future know one thing for certain: if we want to close our nation’s digital divide, the Affordable Connectivity Program is not nice-to-have, it’s need-to-have,” said Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a statement today.

While organizations from the FCC to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance prepare for the end of the ACP, support for its continuation remains.

The Biden-Harris administration, a coalition of governors, a group of senators and a variety of other organizations have called on Congress to take action, and individuals can, too. The ACP Extension Act could make the program’s continuation possible by providing $7 billion in funding. Find additional ACP coverage here. (Julia Edinger)


The Massachusetts Broadband Institute is expanding its municipal digital equity program to 16 new towns and cities within the state, the group has announced.

Dubbed the Commonwealth’s Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program, this initiative gives municipal governments free digital equity strategic planning, specifically aimed at pinpointing the main obstacles for bridging the digital divide in their individual communities. Another component to it is helping the communities with digital literacy training and device access.

This marks the third round of governments selected to take part in this program. The total number of participants is now 78. The new round includes Attleboro, Fitchburg, Springfield and Worcester, as well as 11 towns in the Berkshires, Central Massachusetts and other parts of the state.

More information, along with a full list of the towns selected, can be found here. (Zack Quaintance)


Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has announced nearly $150 million in funding to help support the expansion of high-speed Internet service. Specifically, $148.3 million has been awarded to 16 Internet service providers through 66 Capital Projects Fund grants.

“This has been a monumental task, but it is one that will pay multiple dividends for our state and its residents,” said Ivey of the state’s work to achieve statewide broadband access.

The announcement will mean more than 5,000 miles of broadband infrastructure, expected to provide Internet access to almost 54,000 households, businesses and institutions. These “last mile” projects are supported through American Rescue Plan Act funding. The state Department of Economic and Community Affairs will be administering the grants. (Julia Edinger)


In other state news, Empire State Development has announced the opening of the New York State Broadband Challenge Portal.

The portal allows residents, local governments, nonprofit organizations and Internet service providers to help improve the understanding of which locations could be eligible for broadband service grants. Residents can run speed tests and share the results through this portal. It will be the point through which users can register for the formal challenge process, ConnectALL, which will officially launch on March 19.

ConnectALL will offer webinars to help educate users on how the portal works. While only nonprofit organizations, government entities and Internet service providers can submit formal challenges, members of the public can also participate in the comment process to provide information that can be used in a formal challenge. (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.