Connecticut is using $41 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act Capital Project Fund to expand broadband infrastructure and improve internet connectivity in the state.

The funding is being administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) through its ConneCTed Communities Grant Program. The money will be used to support the construction and deployment of broadband infrastructure designed to provide universal access to affordable, resilient, and reliable broadband. To best support that goal, Connecticut officials said the funding is earmarked for underserved areas, focusing on areas that have historically faced barriers to digital access.

“This program is not only about getting people connected to the internet, but it also paves the way for a more inclusive society, where everyone has equal access to information, resources, and opportunities,” Governor Ned Lamont said. “Through increased connectivity, Connecticut’s towns and cities will be stronger, more resilient, and better positioned to engage in today’s increasingly digitized world.”

Projects must be designed to connect residents and businesses to internet access with speeds of at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 100Mbps for uploads. Applicants must be eligible to receive capital project funds, including local governments, private entities, and nonprofit organizations. Partnerships between public and private entities are encouraged.

“Everyone deserves the opportunity to connect, learn, and engage in the digital age,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “This grant program will provide residents and businesses with the tools they need to access critical services and stay connected. By breaking down digital barriers, more residents will be able to access essential community services, more students will be able to thrive in their academic activities, and more businesses will be able to pursue innovations that keep them competitive.”

Connecticut leaders stressed that the program is just one part of the state’s broader plan to increase broadband access statewide.

“The ConneCTed Communities Grant Program was developed to complement the forthcoming Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program with the goal of reaching every unserved and underserved location in the state,” Dykes said. “We’re excited to bring broadband access to those who need it right now, and to prepare our communities with the infrastructure they’ll need in the years to come.”

Beginning April 1, the state will begin accepting challenges as part of the BEAD Program Challenge Process. The state explained that the Challenge Process gives stakeholders in Connecticut the opportunity to identify and correct inaccuracies on the Federal Communication Commission’s broadband map. The updated map will determine which locations are eligible for funding through the BEAD program. Eligible challengers include local governments, tribal governments, nonprofits, and broadband service providers.

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