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Governor Ducey announced a $ 100 million commitment to expand broadband to unserved or underserved areas of the state, making it one of the largest broadband investments in the history of the ‘State.
The program, known as the Arizona Broadband Development Grant Program, will enable local communities to build or improve broadband infrastructure that connects Arizona residents to their homes and serves schools, libraries, small businesses. , public security operations, etc. Funding comes from the American Rescue Plan Act.
In his 2021 state-of-state address and executive budget proposal, Governor Ducey called for increased efforts to expand broadband access.
âIn today’s digitally connected world, ensuring access to high-speed internet is key to growing opportunities,â Governor Ducey said. âToday’s historic investment will build on the progress of recent years to connect even more schools, businesses, tribal communities and homes, opening up more opportunities for services like telemedicine and digital learning. I am grateful to our legislative leaders, especially President Karen Fann, President Rusty Bowers and Representative Joanne Osborne, for making broadband a priority in the last session. By investing in broadband access, we are investing in our future and enabling all of Arizona to prosper. “
The grants will serve both rural and urban areas of the state, with eligible applicants to include broadband service providers, local governments, Native American tribes, schools, libraries, and more.
“These investments will be a game-changer for our state, accelerating economic growth and improving the lives of thousands of people who do not have access to a reliable Internet,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO of Arizona Commerce Authority. âWith investments over the past few years, Arizona has already shown just how much of a difference expanding broadband access can make. We are grateful to Governor Ducey for allocating these dollars and proud to be associated with this program.
In 2019, Arizona allocated $ 3 million in rural broadband development grants authorized in the FY2020 budget. The funding helped improve broadband infrastructure and increase revenues. download speeds for the communities of Bullhead City, Page and Payson, while funding planning grants in other parts of the state.
âWe have prioritized a real need for Arizona: broadband,â said representative Joanne Osborne of LD 13. âTelehealth, education and economic development all depend on a strong broadband connection. . Investments in broadband lead to safer highways, connected communities, and healthier Arizona residents. Governor Ducey continues to prioritize expanding broadband as our state grows, with a strong focus on rural Arizona. Arizona offers great opportunities and broadband will be integral to its success. I look forward to continuing to work with the governor, broadband experts and members of the rural community on this important issue.
In May, Governor Ducey signed House Bill 2596, sponsored by Representative Regina Cobb, allowing private broadband providers to install, operate and maintain telecommunications equipment within the rights-of-way of the Department of Transportation of Arizona (ADOT).
âThis investment provides the educational and economic development opportunities that Arizona students and communities deserve,â said Wes Brownfield, executive director of the Arizona Rural Schools Association (ARSA) and a member of the board of directors of The Final Mile Project. âWith reliable high-speed internet access, our rural students can take advantage of virtual learning opportunities offered by their schools, our state and the world. This will ensure that our rural students and their communities are able to finally bridge the digital divide. “
âIt is vitally important that hospitals and patients have access to reliable, high-quality broadband services. This connectivity is all the more important as healthcare delivery models increasingly incorporate telehealth, âsaid Ann-Marie Alameddin, President and CEO of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association. âWe are grateful to Governor Ducey for his leadership and support on this issue. “
Arizona has taken significant steps in recent years to expand broadband access. Recent actions include:
- Establish a statewide broadband office hosted at ACA to facilitate the deployment of broadband infrastructure;
- Allocate $ 3 million to improve broadband access in rural areas;
- Invest in âsmart highway corridorsâ to install fiber optic conduit along Arizona highways; and
- Expand access to telemedicine while reimbursing rates to AHCCCS for telehealth services.
Grant applications must be received by December 10, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. MST.
To learn more about the Arizona Broadband Development Grant Program, visit the Arizona Commerce Authority Broadband website.
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