August 4, 2015

A National Review of Broadband Offices

OLR Report 2015-R-0130 describes dedicated broadband offices in other states and how they are funded.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), over the past several years, every state, including Connecticut, has established a task force, commission, or other initiative to help promote the expansion of broadband service. These entities and initiatives have been largely funded through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), with grants provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

In Connecticut, PA 07-254 created the Broadband Internet Coordinating Council to monitor trends and developments in the state’s efforts to develop a state-wide “world-class” communications infrastructure. The council was eliminated in 2011. In 2010, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority received a $4 million grant from the NTIA to (1) develop guidelines for expanding access to and adoption of broadband services across the state, (2) create a state website devoted to broadband services, and (3) collect data from the Internet service providers operating in the state. The grant is managed by the state Broadband Policy Coordinator through the Office of Consumer Counsel. More recently, PA 15-5, June Special Session, among other things, established the Office of State Broadband and required it to work to increase access to, and adoption of, ultra-high-speed gigabit-capable broadband networks.

NTIA invested a total of $293 million in State Broadband Initiative (SBI) projects in every state. Initiatives funded through SBI grants focused on (1) collecting and verifying broadband availability data for a national broadband map and (2) helping states identify and address obstacles to broadband deployment and adoption by supporting state and local task forces and planning teams. According to the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program’s (BTOP) March 2015 Quarterly Program Status Report, 19 of the 233 total BTOP grants awarded remained active as of September 30, 2014, as did 55 of the 56 SBI grants awarded.

Click here to read the full OLR report.