In a bid to close the digital divide, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced that the state will invest $44.5 million to expand access to high-speed internet statewide.
In a press release, Gov. Kelly’s office said that the funding will be awarded to nine service providers to extend high-speed internet to 18,468 locations in 15 underserved counties across the state.
The funding is part of the Kansas Capital Project Funds (CPF) Broadband Infrastructure Program, which provides funding to make broadband connections in critical areas of the state that lack access to high-speed internet. Gov. Kelly’s office noted that this is the third and final award phase of the CPF program.
In total, the state has invested $83.5 million in the CPF program, combined with almost $42 million in matching funds. As a result of the program, more than 24,500 homes, businesses, schools, healthcare facilities, and other public institutions will be connected to fast, reliable internet for the first time.
“The Capital Projects Fund represents a giant step toward getting every Kansan connected to high-speed internet,” Gov. Laura Kelly said. “With this funding, we’re closer than ever to reaching our goal of making Kansas a top 10 state for broadband access by 2030.”
Her office explained that the counties targeted for the CPF program have as few as five locations per square mile, which until now has prevented providers from investing the resources needed to deliver a quality broadband option.
“The CPF program is a historic win for the state,” Lt. Gov. and Secretary of Commerce David Toland said. “Through this grant program, we are supporting Kansans most in need by connecting the unserved, underserved, and those located in counties with high economic risk.”
The funding for the CPF program comes from the American Rescue Plan Act, which included a $10 billion capital project initiative available to states, territories, and tribal governments. Kansas received the funds after the U.S. Department of Treasury approved Kansas’ Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund (CPF) broadband infrastructure plan.
“We appreciate the support the providers and local governments are committing to ensure that all Kansans have equitable access to affordable high-speed internet,” said Jade Piros de Carvalho, broadband development director. “Supporting unserved and underserved communities across the state will continue to bridge the gap and provide a key resource for generations to come.”
Gov. Kelly’s office said that the Kansas Office of Broadband Development received 141 applications for projects totaling more than $600 million and a total of 24 projects were ultimately funded.