Connecticut gets $5.7 million from internet feds | Jobs Recent

(The Center Square) – Connecticut is receiving $5 million in federal funding to expand high-speed Internet service, and close gaps in low-income communities.

The money, provided through the US Department of Commerce’s Whole Internet program, includes a $4.2 million Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment grant and a $736,568 Digital Equity grant.

Gov. Ned Lamont called the funding “seed money” for a major broadband expansion effort, with more than $100 million dollars coming to the state over the next few years.

“Access to fast, reliable Internet has become a necessity in modern life, and we are working hard to expand access so that no one is left behind as we move into this increasingly digital future,” Lamont said in a statement.

Funding for the effort comes from federal appropriations from the Dual Infrastructure Act, which includes $65 billion to expand affordable and reliable Internet access to communities across the country.

Katie Dykes, commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said in Connecticut the funding will be devoted to ensuring “equal access” to broadband services across the state.

“Broadband connectivity is essential to survive in today’s digital world,” he said. “These programs will provide lasting solutions to the communities they serve, enabling all who live, study and work in government to experience the economic and social benefits of affordable, high-speed Internet.”

Despite the concerns, Connecticut ranks second in the nation for fastest Internet speed, coverage and availability, according to BroadbandNow Research.

The research group says more than 99.4% of the state’s households can afford a high-speed Internet plan, but notes that affordability issues mean nearly eight in 10 residents can’t afford broadband for $60 a month or less.

There also appears to be more competition in the state for broadband, with at least 83 Internet service providers licensed by the state to provide customers with wireless access, the group said.

But state officials point out that there are still barriers to providing high-speed services, especially in low-income communities and minorities who struggle with costs and other issues.

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