DHCD Announces Submission of Broadband Plans to Reach Universal Access for Virginians

~ Virginia is first in nation to submit all required BEAD plans ~

RICHMOND, Va., Sept. 26, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development announced today the submission of the Initial Proposal Volume 2 to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which includes the adoption of public comment. The submission of the plans and initial proposals are the final step for Virginia to access its $1.48 billion federal allocation to deploy high-speed internet networks to areas without broadband.

Virginia maintains its position as a leader in affordable broadband connectivity and remains committed to bridging the digital gap,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “Virginia stands as a beacon of national leadership in bridging the digital divide, with an unwavering commitment to making broadband accessible to every Virginian.”

“In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, high-speed broadband access is not a luxury. It is an essential component of daily life,” said DHCD Director and Chief Broadband Advisor Bryan Horn. “We are delighted to announce that the Commonwealth is at the forefront in the nation to reach statewide universal broadband coverage and crafting effective strategies to bridge the digital divide, leaving no Virginian behind.”

The Commonwealth is now the first state in the nation to submit its 5-Year-Plan, Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the Initial Proposal which outline Virginia’s plans for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program under the federal Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act. These funds will be prioritized to reach the estimated 162,000 remaining unserved homes, businesses and community anchors in the Commonwealth that are not yet in a broadband deployment project area.

The BEAD program is a $42.45 billion nationwide program to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment, affordability and adoption programs. The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will administer the Commonwealth’s $1.48 billion BEAD allocation to build upon the work of the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI) to reach the remaining unserved regions of the Commonwealth. Once funding for universal broadband access is delivered, DHCD will focus on leveraging these investments through promoting affordability and improving adoption of this critical service.

The next step in the BEAD program involves a challenge process that confirms that all locations lacking access to high-speed internet, and not part of an existing deployment project, are included in this initiative. The challenge process offers an opportunity for local governments, nonprofit organizations and broadband providers to thoroughly review the preliminary list, which currently identifies 162,000 homes, businesses and community anchor institutions without broadband access.

“Broadband is indispensable in today’s digital world,” said Dr. Tamarah Holmes, Director of Broadband for DHCD. “We encourage our broadband partners to take part in the challenge process to certify no Virginian is left behind in this digital world.”

Following the challenge process, DHCD will initiate the application phase. During this phase, broadband providers will have the opportunity to submit proposals to extend their services to these unconnected regions.

For more information about Virginia’s broadband efforts, visit dhcd.virginia.gov/vati.

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SOURCE Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development

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