A total of $20 million in federal Cares Act funding will be used to build out additional broadband infrastructure across Delaware, gather strategic data through a statewide speed survey, and acquire equipment and services for needy families.
In addition, 15 towers in the current phase of the Rural Wireless Broadband Initiative in Kent and Sussex counties will be completed about four months ahead of schedule.
Originally slated to be completed by the end of 2020, the project received $566,000 through the Delaware Department of Education’s Cares Act funds to fast-track reaching more students in areas in need of high-speed broadband for remote learning during the coronavirus pandemic.
Combined with the initial $2 million investment in state funding, the Rural Wireless Broadband Initiative is expected to serve more than 1,500 customers in rural areas and can be further expanded.
“Over the last two years, Delaware has worked to eliminate internet deserts and make high-speed internet a reality for all Delawareans,” said Gov. John Carney . “Now more than ever, we know how essential reliable internet is for daily life. These funds will help us build additional broadband infrastructure, identify areas where we need to improve internet speeds, and eliminate barriers so that Delaware families can have quality internet— whether it’s for remote learning, working, or connecting with family.”
The state will also use Cares Act funds to cover equipment installation and broadband service for students from low-income households across the state for remote or hybrid learning purposes. Additional information on this program will be announced in the coming weeks.
“Being able to get wireless broadband service was heaven sent,” said Amie Errickson, a Clayton resident and new Bloosurf customer. “We did not have access to any broadband service before. In fact, we used to have to put all the kids in the car and drive to the school parking lot just to use the WIFI to get their homework done. Now they will be able to access the virtual learning they need.”
The state had a long-running effort to improve broadband access and speeds. While. the northern part of the state has among the highest broadband speeds in the nation, other. areas have slower speeds that discouraged businesses from expanding or relocating in some areas.
The gap became more serious when schools closed and shifted to remote learning, due to Covid-19.
To learn more about Delaware’s broadband efforts, please visit www.broadband.delaware.gov.