CT to improve access to the internet, build and deploy broadband infrastructure


| Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash

HARTFORD, CT—Nearly $41 million would be available to fund Connecticut’s projects to improve access to high-speed internet and the construction and deployment of broadband infrastructure designed to support universal access to affordable, resilient, and reliable broadband.

According to a media release, the funding would be administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) through its ConneCTed Communities Grant Program, which will prioritize underserved areas, focusing on those who have historically faced barriers to digital access.

“This program is not only about getting people connected to the internet, but it also paves the way for a more inclusive society, where everyone has equal access to information, resources, and opportunities,” Governor Ned Lamont said. “Through increased connectivity, Connecticut’s towns and cities will be stronger, more resilient, and better positioned to engage in today’s increasingly digitized world.”

These projects must be designed to connect residents and businesses to internet access with speeds of at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 100Mbps for uploads. Applicants must be eligible to receive capital project funds, including local governments, private entities, and nonprofit organizations. Partnerships between public and private entities are encouraged.

“This grant program will provide residents and businesses with the tools they need to access critical services and stay connected. By breaking down digital barriers, more residents will be able to access essential community services, more students will be able to thrive in their academic activities, and more businesses will be able to pursue innovations that keep them competitive,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said.

Added Dykes, “ConneCTed Communities Grant Program was developed to complement the forthcoming Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program with the goal of reaching every unserved and underserved location in the state. We’re excited to bring broadband access to those who need it right now, and to prepare our communities with the infrastructure they’ll need in the years to come.”

Applications are now being accepted and must be submitted to DEEP by April 30, 2024, at 4:30 p.m. Potential applicants will receive more information on the program during a webinar on March 20, 2024, at 10:00 a.m.

For information on the application process and the webinar, visit portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Energy/Broadband-Deployment/ConneCTed-Communities-Grant-Program.

Additionally, Lamont announced that the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program Challenge Process will begin accepting challenges on April 1, 2024.

The nearly $41 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding through the ConneCTed Communities Grant Program, Connecticut was allocated $144 million through the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to expand high-speed internet access across the state.

The Challenge Process allows stakeholders in Connecticut to identify and correct inaccuracies on the broadband map. The updated map will determine which locations are eligible for funding through the BEAD program. Eligible challengers include local governments, tribal governments, nonprofits, and broadband service providers.

While National Telecommunications and Information Administration program requirements do not allow individuals to submit challenges directly, residents of Connecticut are encouraged to work with eligible challengers to identify inaccuracies.

For more information on the BEAD Program Challenge Process, visit portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Energy/Broadband-Deployment/BEAD-Program.

–With Ricky Rillera/PDM

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