What Are States Doing to Close the Digital Divide?
Strong, collaborative relationships between stakeholders are the cornerstone of Minnesota's efforts to expand broadband access. West Virginia has promoted broadband expansion by examining and eliminating barriers to deployment. Colorado has made a significant investment in broadband planning at the regional level. In 2017 the Tennessee Legislature created the Tennessee Broadband Accessibility Grant Program to support broadband deployment in unserved areas of the state. Virginia employs two programs to achieve "functionally universal" broadband coverage. Wisconsin has found that small broadband providers can be important partners and community collaborators in grant programs focused on unserved and underserved areas. Their common goal: broadband so available that we all can take it for granted. As Jordan Beezley of Colorado's Department of Regulatory Agencies says, "It's like electricity. I don't have to think about whether or not the house I'm going to buy has electricity or whether or not that electricity will work. Once we are at that point [with broadband], I think we've won." States are taking steps to spur investment in middle- and last-mile broadband infrastructure and close gaps in adoption. Whether they have focused on broadband for many years or have started their programs more recently, states are connecting areas where traditional models for broadband deployment have not worked. Upcoming Events: March 16 -- Promoting Equity for 5G Technology and Big Data (Rep Brenda Lawrence field hearing in Detroit).