The state of Connecticut is planning to invest $42.9 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in a program to expand broadband internet access and affordability across the state.
The Connecticut Broadband Infrastructure Program received approval from the U.S. Department of the Treasury this week. The competitive grant program seeks to improve broadband access for 10,000 households in its initial phase. Those improvements include access to internet speeds of at least 100 megabits per second (Mbps). Ultimately, the Lamont administration says they want to have Gigabit internet speeds across the state.
“Broadband connectivity has become an essential part of life in today’s digital world, with important aspects of daily life increasingly happening online,” said Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes. Her department will be administering the program when it begins in 2023. “DEEP’s Office of Telecommunications and Broadband has already been hard at work, focused on developing equitable policies and programs to bring the economic and social benefits of broadband access to the residents and businesses of Connecticut.”
Internet service providers (ISPs) participating in the program will be required to participate in the Federal Communication Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides $30 per month off internet bills for low-income households.
According to the FCC, Connecticut’s broadband infrastructure covers a majority of the state already, though access to faster internet speeds and a variety of providers is lacking. The FCC’s survey notes that more than 99% of households in Connecticut have at least one ISP offering 100 Mbps internet speeds, but only 40% have access to more than one. These numbers reflect the case for much of the country.
A lack of providers drives down competition which can lead to higher prices overall. According to a survey from Consumer Reports, the cost of internet decreases based on the number of providers servicing an area.