Virginia will utilize $700 million from the American Rescue Plan to speed up internet deployment in underserved areas across the state. Virginia claims it is on course to become one of the first states in the US to attain universal internet access as a result of the investment.
- The first one: An estimated 233,500 homes and businesses across the Commonwealth fall under what the Federal Communications Commission would consider an underserved place. They don’t have an internet connection that can reach download speeds of 25 Mbps down. Virginia is just one of the states in the country that plans to use this money to build a faster Internet infrastructure.
- Additional funding: The state estimates the additional funding will allow it to connect those places to faster internet by the end of 2024, instead of 2028, as previously planned. What’s more, the “majority” of those connections will be completed within the next 18 months.
- Investment: Across nine provisions, President Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan provides approximately $388 billion in funding for state and local governments to address the digital divide in their communities. In May, California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a $7 billion investment in public broadband.
- Gap–filled: “It’s time to close the digital divide in our Commonwealth and treat internet service like the 21st-century a necessity that it is — not just a luxury for some, but an essential utility for all,” Governor Northam said.
- New Ushering: Since 2015, The FCC has maintained minimum broadband speeds of 25 megabits/second download and 3 megabits/second upload. In July, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said small businesses need more bandwidth to operate and called for the FCC to increase its minimum broadband speed standards.