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.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued Executive Directive 2021-02, which will establish the Michigan High-Speed Internet Office (MIHI) with the intent of improving costs and access to high-speed internet.
The governor pointed to the ongoing pandemic as the precipitating event that necessitated the order.
“COVID-19 has only confirmed how the lack of high-speed internet access can cause too many Michiganders to struggle in their ability to engage in online learning, to use telemedicine to seek needed healthcare, to search for a new job or to take advantage of all the online resources,” Whitmer said in a statement. “A fully connected Michigan is essential for our state to reach its economic potential in the 21st century global economy.”
Michigan has released a map of WiFi hotspots available in the state as a way to assist residents who may not have reliable internet access while they continue to work or learn at home during the pandemic.
The WiFi mapping — spearheaded by the Michigan Public Service Commission, Connected Nation Michigan, the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, and the Department of Education — highlights locations where public internet access is available, such as libraries, public schools and parks. More than 300 locations have already been added to the map, which also includes information about the location and the password used to access the internet there.