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

Suffolk

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

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The website features information about funding opportunities that have helped to close the ‘digital divide.’ This includes CARES Act funding, state-run grant program submittals and Federally administered provider assistance programs.

City officials say this is all part of their commitment to the Governor’s goal of universal broadband coverage by 2024.

The State Council of Higher Education estimates 200,000 K-12 students and 60,000 college students in Virginia lack access to broadband at home.

Evan Feinman, Gov. Ralph Northam’s Chief Broadband Advisor, 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 large states to get to universal coverage,” Feinman said. “We anticipate beating Gov. Northam’s ten-year goal by a couple of years.” 

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 be in agreement on the first year’s $50 million commitment.  

In late 2020, the Northam Administration also launched a new program to fast-track broadband projects in underserved localities. It contributes an additional $30 million in federal CARES Act funding, which was spent before the end of the calendar year.

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