Shaheen Leads NH Delegation in Welcoming Over $525,000 for State Digital Equity Planning
**Announcement is a result of broadband provisions included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that was signed into law in November 2021, of which Shaheen led negotiations with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) on measures to expand broadband access in New Hampshire and across the nation.**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) to welcome over $525,000 in federal funding to support the state’s development of a state-wide plan for digital equity and inclusion projects. This funding will be allocated through the State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program and administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
As a lead negotiator of the broadband provisions included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Senator Shaheen worked with Senator Collins (R-ME) to include authorization of the State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program. This program will support states in planning projects that will expand broadband access and increase digital literacy so that individuals have the necessary skills and technological resources to fully leverage the benefits of high-speed internet access.
In New Hampshire, these grant funds will be used to engage with local communities in order to identify barriers to digital equity and develop meaningful projects to promote the full participation of Granite Staters in today’s digital economy. Upon completing the State Digital Equity Plan, New Hampshire will be eligible to receive additional funds through the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program to carry out its planned activities to promote digital equity and inclusion.
“Every Granite Stater should be empowered with the fundamental skills and affordable access needed to participate in today’s digital economy. That’s why I’m glad to see this Digital Equity Act funding heading to New Hampshire to begin the important work of identifying barriers to digital equity and developing meaningful solutions to ensure every New Hampshire resident can reap the full benefits of high-speed internet access,” said Senator Shaheen, Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Commerce. “I’ll continue advocating for resources to ensure digital equity can be achieved across the Granite State.”
“Access to reliable high-speed internet is critical to helping communities across New Hampshire thrive,” said Senator Hassan. “This new funding will help ensure that people in New Hampshire have the tools necessary to succeed in the digital economy. This program was made possible as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law, which I was proud to help negotiate, and I will continue working across the aisle to help more Granite Staters get connected.”
“Closing the digital divide so that households and small businesses in New Hampshire have access to the resources and skills they need is crucial to ensuring all Granite Staters can thrive in the 21st Century economy,” said Representative Kuster, a member of the House Rural Broadband Task Force. “These federal Digital Equity Act funds headed to our state will help identify challenges and obstacles preventing some Granite Staters from accessing and fully utilizing high-speed internet connections. I will continue working to expand access to broadband in our state and ensure no one is left behind because of digital inequity.”
“Access to broadband is critical to education and our economy, and improving digital equity in New Hampshire will ensure everyone has access to this resource,” said Representative Pappas. “These funds will help our state close the digital equity gap and help Granite Staters build essential skills that will empower them to fully participate in our digital economy. I will continue to support programs such as this one that support our workforce and our economy.”
Earlier this month, Senator Hassan led the delegation in announcing $66 million of a total of $122 million in federal funds through the Capital Projects Fund to help bring high-speed internet access to New Hampshire households and businesses in the most rural parts of the state. In addition, the delegation previously announced $2.2 and $2.4 million in funding to New Hampshire to help connect students to high-speed internet at home through the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. As a lead negotiator of the historic bipartisan infrastructure deal, Shaheen led bipartisan broadband negotiations with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and successfully secured $65 billion to support broadband affordability and deployment across the nation. Earlier this week, the Senate passed Shaheen’s bipartisan legislation to better assist small businesses in accessing broadband internet and other emerging information technology resources.
Senator Hassan also helped to negotiate the bipartisan infrastructure package, including key provisions on high-speed internet, passenger rail, coastal resiliency, and cybersecurity. The law also incorporates elements of bipartisan legislation Senator Hassan authored to support rural broadband using private activity bonds to help pay for high-speed internet infrastructure in unserved locations, an approach that allows state and local governments to access and leverage new sources of capital and attract investment for broadband.