The state of Connecticut has been awarded almost $5 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce to help expand access to broadband internet throughout the state.

On Wednesday, Governor Ned Lamont announced the state had been awarded a $4.2 million Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) grant, as well as a $736,568 Digital Equity grant. The latter will be administered by the Commission for Educational Technology, while the BEAD grant will be the province of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

“Broadband connectivity is essential to living in today’s digital world,” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes in a statement. “These programs will provide lasting solutions for the communities they serve, enabling all those who live, learn, and work in the state to access the economic and social benefits of affordable, high-speed internet. DEEP is committed to a high level of community engagement throughout the lifetime of these programs.”

This initial round of grant funding is intended as seed money for a much larger project. In a 2022 report from DEEP, the department outlined a plan for an additional $90 million in BEAD grants as well as $40.8 million in Capital Projects Fund grants.

In 2021, Gov. Lamont signed a bill to expand fast, affordable broadband access to communities across the state, with a particular interest in low-to-moderate-income areas. DEEP’s Office of Telecommunications and Broadband was established specifically to carry out these orders.

According to DEEP, the department will be working to “ensure the universal availability, affordability, and accessibility of high quality, telecommunications services to all residents and businesses in the state.” Plans include bolstering competition between Internet Service Providers (ISPs), facilitating development of new telecommunications technology, and developing new facilities.

 “The BEAD program enables us to make great strides toward Governor Lamont’s goal of universal access to high-speed broadband,” said Kevin Pisacich, DEEP’s director of the Office of Telecommunications and Broadband in a statement. “The BEAD planning funds will enable us to build a roadmap and adopt strategies, goals, and measures to bridge the access gap once and for all.”

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An Emmy and AP award-winning journalist, Tricia has spent more than a decade working in digital and broadcast media. She has covered everything from government corruption to science and space to entertainment...

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