Utah Digital Access Plan Approved and Digital Equity Capacity Grant Announcement

Kaitlyn ClarkeBroadband

The Utah Broadband Center (UBC), part of the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, announced the official approval of Utah’s Statewide Digital Access Plan. This comprehensive action plan, spanning the next five years, is a roadmap to ensure digital access for every Utahn. 

This significant milestone was preceded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) announcement of the first round of the Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program, which will tentatively allocate $7.8 million to Utah.

“We are pleased to announce the approval of Utah’s Statewide Digital Access Plan, a pivotal step forward in our commitment to digital inclusivity and economic empowerment across the state,” said Rebecca Dilg, UBC director. “This plan lays the groundwork for a future where every Utahn, regardless of location or background, can access the digital tools necessary to access online education, healthcare, and economic opportunities.” 

The Digital Access Plan addresses the fundamental aspects of participating successfully in the digital world: access to affordable high-speed internet, safe and reliable devices, and training to achieve digital independence. Key strategies include increasing digital skills in the workplace, improving healthcare and telehealth access, developing device refurbishment ecosystems, and building a network of community organizations and stakeholders.

Following a year of meticulous planning, collaboration with subgrantees overseeing local digital access plans, incorporation of stakeholder feedback, and alignment with Utah’s Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment plans, the Digital Access Plan is a cumulation of statewide efforts tailored to the unique needs of Utah. 

Utah expects to receive approximately $7.8 million in the initial round of funding from the Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program to support digital equity initiatives statewide. UBC is developing a proposal to utilize these funds effectively, guided by the Digital Access Plan. This preliminary funding opportunity is open to states, U.S. territories, and native entities. The application closes on May 28, 2024. 

“Today, Utah is taking a major step toward closing the digital divide and ensuring access for all residents,” said Angela Thi Bennett, director of digital equity at NTIA. “The state’s digital equity plan will ensure that all Utahns benefit from increased availability, accessibility, and affordability of high-speed Internet.”

For more information on the Statewide Digital Access Plan and updates from the Utah Broadband Center, please visit ConnectingUtah.com.