Suffolk launches broadband initiatives webpage and moves towards universal broadband coverage by 2024

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Suffolk has launched a web page on broadband initiatives as part of the city’s efforts for universal broadband coverage.

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The website presents information on funding opportunities that have helped bridge the ‘digital divide’. This includes funding from the CARES Act, submissions to state-run grant programs, and federally administered vendor assistance programs.

City officials say it’s part of their commitment to the governor’s goal of universal broadband coverage by 2024.

The State Council on Higher Education estimates that 200,000 K-12 students and 60,000 university students in Virginia do not have broadband access at home.

Evan Feinman, chief broadband adviser to Governor Ralph Northam, estimates that it will cost $ 300 million to connect every Virginian to high-speed internet by 2028.

“We think we’re going to be one of the first major states to achieve universal coverage,” Feinman said. “We expect to beat Governor Northam’s ten-year goal by a few years.”

The investments currently being debated by state lawmakers in the special session could make a big dent in that effort. Northam’s proposed budget includes $ 85 million to expand broadband over two years. Feinman said the House and Senate seemed to at least agree to the $ 50 million first-year pledge.

At the end of 2020, the Northam administration also launched a new program to accelerate broadband projects in underserved areas. It contributes an additional $ 30 million to federal funding for the CARES Act, which was spent by the end of the calendar year.

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