Gov. Northam announces $2 billion public-private broadband investment; Virginia on track to close digital divide by 2024

Posted at 1:30 PM, Oct 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-23 13:30:47-04

RICHMOND, Va. - Gov. Ralph Northam announced that Virginia received a record number of local and private sector applications to match state broadband investments, putting the state on track to become one of the first to achieve universal broadband access by 2024.

Thanks to local and private sector matching funds, as well as the $874 million in state appropriations going towards funding, Virginia anticipates more than $2 billion in total broadband funding.

“Broadband is as critical today as electricity was in the last century,” Northam said. “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.”

The Virginia Telecommunication Initiative received 57 applications from 84 localities, requesting $943 million to connect more than 250,000 Virginia homes and businesses unserved by an internet service provider, when its most recent application round closed last month.

The Department of Housing and Community Development is reviewing applications and expects to award the funds by the end of the year.

Since Northam took office in 2018, he and the General Assembly have awarded $124 million in grants, connecting more than 140,000 homes, businesses and community organizations. Along with private investment and federal broadband grants, the Commonwealth has reduced the digital divide by 65 percent.