|RICHMOND, VA – Governor Glenn Youngkin announced today the release of the Commonwealth’s plans for closing the digital divide. The plans outline Virginia’s strategy for connecting Virginians to high-speed, affordable broadband and will allow Virginia to access its $1.48 billion federal allocation to deploy high-speed internet networks to areas without broadband.
“In today’s increasingly digital world, having access to high-speed broadband is no longer a luxury, it is necessary in order to fully participate in daily life,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “I’m proud to share that the Commonwealth is the first in the nation to release these plans and to strategize the effective utilization of these funds, ensuring that all Virginians are connected through broadband.”
The 5-Year Plan and Volume 2 of the Initial Proposal outlines Virginia’s plans for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program under the federal Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act. These funds will be prioritized to reach the estimated 160,000 remaining unserved homes, businesses and community anchors in the Commonwealth that are not yet in a broadband deployment project area.
“Virginia continues to be a national leader in closing the digital divide, and the announcement of the release of our plans only cements that status,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “Once we achieve universal broadband, we will be able to focus our efforts and funding on promoting digital literacy, improving healthcare and lowering costs for all Virginians.”
The BEAD program is a $42.45 billion nationwide program to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs. The Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) will administer the Commonwealth’s $1.48 billion BEAD allocation to build upon the work of the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) to reach the remaining unserved regions of the Commonwealth. Once funding for universal broadband access is delivered, DHCD will focus on leveraging these investments through promoting affordability and improving adoption of this critical service.
“Broadband is as critical today as electricity was in the last century, and this administration is committed to ensuring that no communities are at risk of being left behind,” said DHCD Director and Chief Broadband Advisor Bryan Horn. ”Virginia and the VATI program continue to be a national model for bridging the digital divide, and we will continue working to ensure that broadband in Virginia works for all Virginians.”
DHCD is accepting public comment through Sept. 19, 2023 for Volume 2 of the BEAD Initial Proposal.
Since 2017, Virginia has allocated over $935 million in state and federal funding to extend broadband infrastructure to over 388,000 locations in 80 cities and counties across the Commonwealth. These investments have leveraged an additional $1.1 billion in matching funds from local governments and internet service providers.
For more information about Virginia’s broadband efforts and to submit comments on Volume 2, visit dhcd.virginia.gov/vati.