Gov. John Carney, Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.), members of the General Assembly and the Delaware Department of Technology & Information (DTI) on Thursday, Sept. 16, announced a $110 million investment to cover every “last mile” of Delaware with high-speed, wireline broadband internet service.
The broadband infrastructure investment — funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which was signed into law on March 11 by President Joe Biden — aims to make Delaware the first state to provide wireline broadband access to every Delaware home and business.
“Delawareans rely on stable internet connections to apply for jobs, help their children do homework, work from home, or continue their education online,” said Carney. “This significant investment will recognize that reality, and make sure all Delaware families have access to high-speed broadband service.
“We know that’s more important than ever after the lessons we’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “I want to thank Delaware’s federal delegation for voting to approve the American Rescue Plan Act, and President Joe Biden for signing this important legislation into law.”
Currently, about 11,600 Delaware homes and businesses lack access to high-speed, wireline broadband service. The broadband infrastructure project announced on Sept. 16 will target investments to areas currently un-served or under-served, lacking a wireline connection, and will prioritize projects that achieve “last mile” connections to households and businesses.
Maps of the areas most in need of expanded of broadband networks across Delaware can be viewed online at https://governor.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/24/2021/09/Investing-in-Broadband-Broadband-Expansion-and-Underserved-Areas.pdf.
“Access to broadband is infrastructure. Just like when our roads, bridges and railways are broken, we fix them, and we need to do the same for our access to broadband and close these gaps,” said Hall-Long. “This critical investment from our federal government is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for us to make a real difference and deliver meaningful investments. I’m excited about the opportunity to really put our state in a position of strength to meet the challenges of tomorrow.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has shown just how much Americans rely on the internet for school, running a business, or simply getting healthcare. Unfortunately, too many people across the First State do not have access to a reliable Internet connection,” said Carper.
“When our Congressional delegation was working on the American Rescue Plan, we knew we needed to provide robust and flexible funding for states to address their own unique needs. I’m so glad the state is using funds from the American Rescue Plan to address this digital divide, and I applaud Gov. Carney’s leadership in combatting this pandemic and moving Delaware forward.”
“Reliable access to high-speed internet is becoming more and more critical for success in the 21st century,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “Today’s news will connect thousands in Delaware to broadband services. With the current challenges of COVID-19, we have particularly felt the strain associated with unreliable internet across our state.
“Whether it’s connecting kids to schools, seniors to doctors, or rural farmers to state-of-the-art agricultural data, this $110-million investment of federal funds will expand broadband availability, increase internet speeds and make Delaware one of the most connected states in America.”
“Access to affordable and reliable broadband has been an issue for students, families and businesses throughout Delaware for years, especially for those in the most rural and urban areas of the state,” said Blunt Rochester. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the critical need for high-speed broadband service as Delawareans found themselves learning, working and educating from home now more than ever.
“With $110 million secured through the American Rescue Plan that I voted to pass in March, Delaware will now be able to invest in major updates to our broadband infrastructure in the areas that need it most.”
“Many of the local officials have long said that additional investment must be made in broadband connectivity,” said State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn (R-19th). “As the events of the past year have painfully shown, the infrastructure required to support business, remote learning and other activities vital in the modern world are simply not in place. This investment will make our communities more competitive in a global economy, allow our students to have equal access to information for learning, and provide health, safety and security enhancements to even the most remote areas in our state.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has driven home just how integral broadband is for modern life,” said State Sen. Nicole Poore (D-12th), chair of the Joint Capital Improvement Committee. “Delawareans logged on for work, school, doctor’s visits and just to spend a few minutes with their loved ones. Others turned to the high-speed internet to keep their businesses going.
“Here in the 21st century, we can’t afford for whole towns and communities to be without this vital service, and I applaud Gov. John Carney for keeping his promise to close the last remaining gaps in broadband service for our rural communities.”
“Building upon our prior investments in fiber and wireless broadband, it is our goal to be the first state to provide a wired internet connection to every Delaware residence and business,” said Delaware Chief Information Officer Jason Clarke. “Working with our state internet service providers to deliver a reliable and scalable solution will position Delaware to meet current and future broadband demands.”