Virginia is investing $700M to expand broadband access to everyone in the state by 2024

Virginia is working to reach a goal of providing broadband access for all homes in the state by 2024.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Virginia governor Ralph Northam said Friday the state plans to invest $700 million in American Rescue Plan funding to help bring broadband to underserved areas within the next three years. The move will expedite Gov. Northam’s 10-year plan to provide internet access for everyone in the state, pushing forward the goal year from 2028 to 2024. 

The governor also said Virginia has “successfully bridged half of the digital divide, with an estimated 233,500 unserved locations remaining,” according to a release. 

“It’s time to close the digital divide in our Commonwealth and treat internet service like the 21st century necessity that it is-not just a luxury for some, but an essential utility for all,” Gov. Northam said in a statement. “The pandemic has reinforced how important high-quality broadband is for the health, education, and economic opportunity, and we cannot afford to leave any community behind.”

The American Rescue Plan, a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, aims to offer relief for American workers and to help with economic recovery, which includes the dissemination of stimulus payments. The pandemic has also highlighted just how critical closing the digital divide is as Americans became more reliant on high-speed internet access to complete essential tasks while stuck at home.

Since 2018, Virginia says it’s awarded around $124 million in broadband grants and connected more than 140,000 homes, businesses and community centers. The state says it’s on track to be one of the first in the US to achieve universal broadband service.

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