Commentary: Cleveland GON Is Another Risky Broadband Project

If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that high-speed internet is as integral to the modern world today as electricity was 100 years ago. Still, around six percent of the country, heavily concentrated in very rural areas, lack access to the infrastructure that would bring them online. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have recognized these individuals are in danger of getting left behind and made serious efforts to make sure the remaining communities get connected quickly. Republican lawmakers have also fought hard to include language in internet infrastructure initiatives that prevents some of the typical government-waste we see with big-spending projects.

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Arizona Governor Ducey Announces Project to Expand Broadband Access

Doug Ducey

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on Friday announced the state will invest more than $68 million in a project to expand broadband access to rural places throughout the state.

The investment will focus on connectivity along Interstate 40 West, running from Flagstaff to the California border.

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Governor Tom Wolf Signs Bill to Expand Broadband Access Throughout State

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed legislation that will help expand access to broadband internet throughout the state.

House Bill 2071, sponsored by a trio of lawmakers in the House of Representatives, will establish the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, an agency that will help award grants to underserved areas throughout the state.

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Gov. Northam: Virginia Should Reach Universal Broadband by 2024

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam

Virginia is on pace to have universal broadband access throughout the commonwealth by 2024 following a record number of local and private sector applications to match state investments, Gov. Ralph Northam announced.

After the most recent application window closed, the state received 57 applications from 84 localities for about $943 million worth of state funding, which leverages about $1.15 billion worth of private and local matching funds. In total, this amounts to an investment larger than $2 billion, which the governor’s office estimates will connect more than 250,000 homes to broadband internet.

“Broadband is as critical today as electricity was in the last century,” Northam said in a statement. “Making sure more Virginians can get access to it has been a priority since I took office, and the pandemic pushed us all to move even faster. Virginia is now on track to achieve universal broadband by 2024, which means more connections, more investments, easier online learning, and expanded telehealth options, especially in rural Virginia.”

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Senate Passes Infrastructure Bill; Tennessee’s Hagerty Warns of a Move Toward ‘Western-Europe-Style Socialism’

By a vote of 69 to 30, the U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed a $1.2 billion infrastructure bill that Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) warns is an endeavor to “fundamentally move America toward Western-Europe-style socialism.”

“Investing in infrastructure the right way is a wise investment in America’s future and in our long-term competitiveness, but that’s not what we’re being asked to vote on here,” Hagerty told fellow senators in the run-up to Tuesday’s vote.

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Tennessee Officials to Allocate COVID-Relief Funds to Increase Internet Access in Underserved Regions

Crystal Ivey, broadband director at Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD), said Wednesday that $500 million in taxpayer money bestowed upon Tennessee in the latest round of federal COVID-19 relief will go toward broadband expansion.

ECD officials and Governor Bill Lee (R) have stressed the heightened importance of telecommuting, e-commerce, telemedicine and distance learning after the pandemic hit.

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Expanding Broadband Access in Ohio Becomes Law

Gov. Mike DeWine

Advancing broadband access across Ohio became official when Gov. Mike DeWine signed into law a bill that creates a grant program that government and business groups said is critical to economic development.

DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted signed the bill Monday at Middletown’s Amanda Elementary School, along with students, Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria and Ohio Development Services Agency Director Lydia Mihalik.

“Reliable high-speed internet is a necessity for all Ohio industries, including manufacturing,” said Ryan Augsburger, president of the Ohio Manufacturers Association. “The pandemic has illuminated the need for Ohio families and businesses to efficiently access broadband in today’s technology-based economy.”

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Emergency Broadband Benefit Applications Open, Provides $50 per Month to Help Recipients Pay Broadband Bills

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is accepting applications for an economic relief program providing $50 per month to help low-income families pay for broadband.

“The Emergency Broadband Benefit program will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands,” states an announcement shared Wednesday by Congressman Rob Wittman (R-Virginia-01). “Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.”

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More Rural Georgia Counties to Get Internet Upgrade under Private-Sector Deal

Workers installing broadband internet

More rural Georgians are expected to gain access to high-speed internet under a private-sector partnership announced this week by Conexon Connect.

Conexon Connect is collaborating with Middle Georgia EMC to provide broadband access to nearly 5,000 homes and businesses in Dooly, Houston, Macon, Pulaski, Turner, Wilcox and Ben Hill counties.

“Our members have waited long enough for high-speed access to make telemedicine, remote learning, working from home and videoconferencing with loved ones a reality on a daily basis,” Middle Georgia EMC President and CEO Randy Crenshaw said. “Connect is making it possible for our cooperative to deliver this vital service at last. We are ready to show them all the opportunities that open up in a more connected community.”

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Commentary: Tennessee Democrat Wrongly Pushes TVA as Broadband Solution

Phil Bredesen

The Democrat seeking to replace the retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R) is pushing the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) as a solution to solve the rural broadband gap. But, history shows that kind of big-government method will only take a bite out of taxpayers. Bredesen, the former governor of the Volunteer…

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Big Government Bredesen Wants TVA in the Internet Business

Phil Bredesen

Liberal Democrat Chuck Schumer’s handpicked U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen has said he wants to get the Tennessee Valley Authority “to help expand broadband internet access to rural areas if elected.” Bredesen made the remarks Tuesday in Clarksville, TN. There’s video of him speaking here. He said he is committed to…

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Clarksville Municipal Broadband Provider CDE Lightband, With Taxpayer Losses Topping $75 Million, Suffers More Outages

Tennessee Star

By Chris Butler CDE Lightband of Clarksville, the municipal broadband outlet that cost taxpayers $75 million, has had an outage, yet again, as of Wednesday. The municipal broadband service has had several outages over the past three years, inspiring a public uproar and raising questions about the grandiose claims made by city…

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Tennessee Watchdog: Eleven Tennessee Utilities Squander Taxpayer Money on Broadband

This article is reprinted with permission from the Tennessee Watchdog. By Chris Butler February 13, 2017 More than 200 municipal broadband networks in the U.S. have placed taxpayer money in jeopardy, and 11 of those networks are in Tennessee, a new report from the Taxpayers Protection Alliance says. The Washington,…

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