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The Arizona Commerce Authority this week awarded nearly $100 million to 20 awardees of the Arizona Broadband Development Grant Program (ABDG) to expand high-speed broadband to Arizona’s unserved or underserved areas.

With the awards, Arizona joins Maryland, Wisconsin and many other states that are releasing funds for broadband expansion. Some programs are funded, at least in part, through programs created in the ARPA and the CARES Act. More federal broadband money will flow to the states once the BEAD program gets underway. 

The Arizona program allocated a total of $75.7 million to 14 awardees in rural counties, as well as $23.6 million to six awardees in urban counties, which also generated $112.8 million in local matching funds. The state award winners were determined through a competitive process based on criteria that included return on investment and local support.

The grant projects are designed to increase connections for homes, businesses, public safety agencies, medical facilities, schools, and libraries as well as to drive new economic development and enhance opportunities for tourism, trade and agriculture.

Among the projects will be some involving the installation of high-speed fiber-optic infrastructure. Some involve the deployment of Wi-Fi access points and networking equipment for broadband internet and/or the expansion of existing and middle-mile fiber networks.

The awards represent “a generational investment toward connecting rural and underserved parts of the state and demonstrates our commitment to ensure all Arizonans have access to high-speed internet,” said Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, in a prepared statement.

“Whether it’s public safety, education, telemedicine or more, reliable internet access is more important than ever. We’re grateful to be partnering with communities across our state to ensure we connect all of Arizona.” 

The awards are in addition to earlier announced broadband funding initiatives.

In February, Governor Ducey announced a $68.1 million investment to expand broadband connectivity along I-40 West from Flagstaff to the border with California.

In 2019, Arizona allocated $3 million for Rural Broadband Development Grants, which helped enhance broadband infrastructure and increased download speeds for the communities of Bullhead City, Page and Payson, while funding planning grants in other parts of the state.

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