Kansas gets nearly $5.7 million to expand equitable broadband access

TOPEKA – Gov. Laura Kelly announced today that Kansas has received nearly $5.7 million from the US Department of Commerce’s Office of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to expand broadband access, adoption and affordability.

“Communities across Kansas have tremendous potential for a new chapter of innovation and success,” said Gov. Laura Kelly. “This funding will move the state forward and accelerate our efforts to ensure all Kansans can fully participate in the digital world.”

The funds are part of the proposed $65 billion as outlined in the federal infrastructure investment and jobs law passed in 2021, dubbed the “Internet for All Initiative.”

“The Internet for All initiative will bridge Kansas’ digital divide and ensure rural areas have the services they need to access telemedicine, education and jobs,” said Trade Minister Gina Raimondo. “I appreciate Governor Kelly’s commitment to connecting every home and business in Kansas to affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet service.”

“Kansans use the Internet to work, study, stay in touch with family, build a business, get health care and more. While access to high-speed Internet is a gateway to opportunity, opportunity is not evenly distributed in our state.” said MP Sharice Davids (KS-03). “I’m proud to have voted for this new federal funding from the bipartisan infrastructure bill that will help every Kansan thrive in the digital age.”

The Kansas Department of Commerce’s Office of Broadband Development (OBD) will use these funds in a variety of ways. Nearly $5 million will be used to deliver the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, part of the Internet for All initiative. The remaining $692,000 will be used to implement the first phase of NTIA’s Digital Equity Act.

“Broadband justice begins with access, but also includes deployment and deployment,” said Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland. “The state is committed to providing capacity and resources to ensure everyone has the access and skills they need to benefit from digital technologies in their lives.”

OBD will work with stakeholders across Kansas to develop both a five-year action plan and a statewide digital equity plan that will provide direction and action to support the delivery of affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet to all of Kansas. Both plans will be submitted to NTIA by August 2023.

The office will host events at 25 to 30 locations across the state beginning in January. Special attention is paid to groups and communities that are disproportionately affected by digital inequality. These groups include low-income households, aging populations, people with disabilities or language barriers, racial and ethnic minorities, rural dwellers, inmates and veterans.

“These planning funds will give our office the ability to reach out and connect with all of the Kansans,” said Jade Piros de Carvalho, director of the Bureau of Broadband Development. “We will begin our planning efforts at our inaugural Kansas Broadband Summit on January 19 at Wichita State University. This event is the premier opportunity to connect with communities across Kansas and ask for partnership and support as we coordinate efforts to connect Kansas to reliable, high-speed Internet access.”

All 50 states and six territories applied for planning grants from the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program and the Digital Equity Act program. Grants for all 56 eligible organizations will be announced on an ongoing basis.

Please visit the Kansas Office of Broadband Development website here. For more information on the federal effort, visit AffordableConnectivity.gov and InternetforAll.gov.