Suffolk launches broadband initiatives webpage and moves towards universal broadband coverage by 2024

SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Suffolk has launched a broadband initiatives webpage as part of the city’s drive toward universal broadband coverage.

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the website presents information on funding opportunities that have helped bridge the “digital divide”. This includes CARES Act funding, state-run grant program submissions, and federally-administered provider assistance programs.

City officials say it’s all part of their commitment to the governor’s goal of universal broadband coverage by 2024.

The State Council on Higher Education estimates that 200,000 K-12 students and 60,000 college students in Virginia do not have home broadband access.

Evan Feinman, chief broadband adviser to Governor Ralph Northam, estimates it will cost $300 million to connect every Virginian to high-speed internet by 2028.

“We believe we’re going to be one of the first major states to achieve universal coverage,” Feinman said. “We expect to beat Governor Northam’s 10-year target by a few years.”

The investments currently being debated by state lawmakers in the special session could make a big dent in that effort. Northam’s proposed budget includes $85 million to expand broadband over two years. Feinman said the House and Senate appear to at least agree on the $50 million commitment for the first year.

At the end of 2020, the Northam administration also launched a new program to accelerate broadband projects in underserved areas. It is contributing an additional $30 million in federal funding for the CARES Act, which was spent before the end of the calendar year.

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