The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is awarding Hawaii $5,570,883.00 in broadband planning grants. The grants include $5 million for the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program and nearly $571,000 for the digital equity program.
The states will administer those programs but first NTIA must approve each state’s plans for how it will do that. Funding is coming from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).
All 50 U.S. states and six territories applied for planning grant funding, with the 56 eligible entities to be announced on a rolling basis.
The BEAD program has a total budget of $42.45 billion to expand high-speed Internet service access in unserved and underserved areas.
Hawaii Broadband Planning
Hawaii’s plans for its $5 million in BEAD planning funds are:
- Identifying unserved and underserved households;
- Increasing capacity of the State Broadband Office;
- Engaging locally with the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism to improve understanding of barriers to adoption for unserved and underserved communities.
The Digital Equity Act has a total budget of $2.75 billion and is aimed at ensuring that all people and communities have “the skills, technology and capacity needed to see the full benefits of the digital economy.”
Hawaii’s plans for its Digital Equity Act planning funds ($570,883) are:
- Development of the Digital Equity plan for the state through the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism;
- Outreach with the State Broadband Office to stakeholders in unserved and underserved communities;
- Development of collaborative partnerships among stakeholders to achieve digital equity in Hawaii.
“The challenges we faced over the past few years showed how important it is to have reliable and affordable internet access for all residents, whether they live in urban Honolulu or a rural part of a neighbor island,” said Hawaii Gov. David Ige, in a prepared statement. “This federal funding . . . will allow the state to continue advancing digital literacy and broadband projects throughout the state in the years to come. I am especially pleased that this funding includes support for broadband access in Native Hawaiian communities through the Department of Hawaiian Homelands.”