A $110 million plan that will cover every “last mile” of Delaware with high-speed, wireline broadband internet service was unveiled on Thursday.
The broadband expansion – funded by the American Rescue Plan Act which was signed into law on March 11 by President Joe Biden – aims to make Delaware the first state to provide wireline broadband access to every Delaware home and business.
“Delawareans rely on stable internet connections to apply for jobs, help their children do homework, work from home, or continue their education online,” said Gov. John Carney. “This significant investment will recognize that reality, and make sure all Delaware families have access to high-speed broadband service. We know that’s more important than ever after the lessons we’ve learned during the Covid-19 pandemic. I want to thank Delaware’s federal delegation for voting to approve the American Rescue Plan Act and President Joe Biden for signing this important legislation into law.”
Currently, about 11,600 Delaware homes and businesses lack access to high-speed, wireline broadband service. The bulk of the homes and businesses are in areas of Kent and Sussex counties where cable companies cannot profitably extend service.
Broadband is also becoming an essential element in managing farming operations.
Some built up areas of the state have among the highest average internet speeds in the nation, thanks to Comcast and Verizon, which sometimes compete with one another for customers.
The lack of broadband has been a factor in attracting businesses in some areas. In 2014, an industrial park in the Sussex County town of Selbyville had to tap into a fiber-optic line in nearby Maryland to gain high-speed access.
The broadband infrastructure project announced on Thursday will target investments to areas currently unserved or underserved, lacking a wireline connection, and will put a priority on projects that achieve “last mile” connections to households and businesses.
Click here to view maps of areas most in need of expanded broadband networks or view the PDF below.
“The coronavirus pandemic has shown just how much Americans rely on the Internet for school, running a business, or simply getting health care. Unfortunately, too many people across the First State do not have access to a reliable Internet connection,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “When our Congressional delegation was working on the American Rescue Plan, we knew we needed to provide robust and flexible funding for states to address their own unique needs. I’m so glad the state is using funds from the American Rescue Plan to address this digital divide, and I applaud Governor Carney’s leadership in combatting this pandemic and moving Delaware forward.”
“Access to affordable and reliable broadband has been an issue for students, families, and businesses throughout Delaware for years, especially for those in the most rural and urban areas of the state,” said U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester. “The Covid-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the critical need for high-speed broadband service as Delawareans found themselves learning, working, and educating from home now more than ever. With $110 million secured through the American Rescue Plan that I voted to pass in March, Delaware will now be able to invest in major updates to our broadband infrastructure in the areas that need it most.”
“Many of the local officials have long said that additional investment must be made in broadband connectivity,” said State Sen. Brian Pettyjohn. “As the events of the past year have painfully shown, the infrastructure required to support business, remote learning, and other activities vital in the modern world are simply not in place. This investment will make our communities more competitive in a global economy, allow our students to have equal access to information for learning, and provide health, safety, and security enhancements to even the most remote areas in our state.”
Pettyjohn. R-Georgetown has been a long-time advocate of expanding broadband access in southern Delaware.
“Building upon our prior investments in fiber and wireless broadband, it is our goal to be the first state to provide a wired internet connection to every Delaware residence and business,” said Delaware Chief Information Officer Jason Clarke. “Working with our state internet service providers to deliver a reliable and scalable solution will position Delaware to meet current and future broadband demands.”