The Utah Broadband Center, an initiative of the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity (Go Utah), was recently awarded $10 million in federal funding through the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund (CPF) as part of the American Rescue Plan.
The CPF allocates $10 billion to states, territories, freely associated states, and Tribal governments to fund critical capital projects that enable work, education, and health monitoring in response to the public health emergency. Utah is among five other states awarded CPF funds.
“Utah will receive $10 million for broadband infrastructure, which we estimate will connect 3,080 households and businesses. This represents approximately 5% of locations in Utah still lacking high-speed internet access,” said Jim Grover, Go Utah’s managing director of Incentives and Grants. “The award will fund the Broadband Access Grant, a competitive grant program designed to address gaps in broadband infrastructure. Our goal is to increase reliable high-speed internet service where it is currently unavailable. Funding from CPF will help Utah continue its efforts to bridge the remaining digital divide.”
The Utah Broadband Center has already awarded five rural recipients. Due to rurality, economic need, or high cost, these areas would not otherwise have broadband infrastructure without the grant incentive. These areas include Box Elder County, Croydon, Millard County, West Mountain, and Montezuma Creek in the Navajo Nation in San Juan County.
The CPF will address many challenges laid bare by the pandemic, especially in rural America, Tribal communities, and low and moderate-income communities. It will help ensure all communities can access the high-quality modern infrastructure, including broadband, needed to access critical services.
“The pandemic upended life as we knew it—from work to school to connecting with friends and family—and exposed the stark inequity in access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet in communities across the country in rural, Tribal, and other underrepresented communities,” said U.S. Department of the Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo.
In accordance with Treasury’s guidance, each state’s plan requires service providers to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s new Affordable Connectivity Program. (ACP). The Affordable Connectivity Program helps ensure that households can afford the high-speed internet they need for work, school, healthcare, and more by providing a discount of up to $30 per month (or up to $75 per eligible household on Tribal lands). Experts estimate that nearly 40% of U.S. households are eligible for the program.