Announcement comes as the FCC attempts to tie funding for broadband expansion to DEI stipulations
BOWLING GREEN, Fla. — Today, Governor Ron DeSantis awarded nearly $223 million to expand broadband internet access to Floridians, including small and rural communities. This funding includes $135 million in state funding through the Broadband Opportunity Program and $86 million in federal funds through the Multipurpose Community Facilities Program. Awards through the Broadband Opportunity Program will support 54 projects in 33 Florida counties for broadband internet expansion that will provide internet to over 27,000 unserved residential, educational, agricultural, business and community locations. Awards through the Multipurpose Facility Program will support 29 community infrastructure projects including health clinics, schools and workforce development programs providing internet to Floridians across 18 counties. To learn more, click here.
This funding comes as the Federal Communications Commission recently enacted new rules relating to private companies’ broadband expansion efforts, aimed at preventing “digital discrimination of access to broadband services based on income level, race, ethnicity, color, religion or national origin.” Through rules like this, the Biden administration is directly disincentivizing private companies from providing services like broadband internet to rural communities because they don’t meet certain diversity quotas. Florida will not enforce these discriminatory strings attached to federal funding that drive investment away from small and rural communities that are already underserved.
“Connecting Florida’s small and rural communities to broadband internet will help them find jobs, access education resources and expand their businesses,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We will continue to make investments in broadband internet that support long-term growth for our communities, without federally imposed strings attached.”
“Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida’s economy has grown at a persistent pace. Today’s strategic awards help maintain Florida’s forward momentum,” said FloridaCommerce Secretary J. Alex Kelly. “By connecting Floridians with centrally located community hubs, residents have increased access to find their next professional opportunity, upskill for future jobs and access telemedicine resources through a steady broadband internet connection.”
“Thank you, Governor DeSantis, for your leadership and for investing in our community,” said Representative Kaylee Tuck. “The need for reliable broadband access has never been more prevalent, and the strain on rural communities like Hardee County has never been felt more than it is today. This investment will be incredible for our area.”
Today’s awards build on Governor DeSantis’ earlier announcement of more than $226 million awarded for projects across 53 Florida counties, connecting more than 250,000 homes and businesses through the Broadband Opportunity Program. Additionally, Governor DeSantis awarded more than $247 million through the Broadband Infrastructure Program, connecting more than 59,000 unserved and underserved businesses, homes, farms and anchor institutions like hospitals and libraries to high-speed internet.
The federally funded Multipurpose Community Facilities Program supports the construction and rehabilitation of community facilities that provide important resources to Floridians to support workforce development, educational opportunities and access to healthcare in small and rural communities. Projects include community centers, health clinics, schools and workforce development programs serving Floridians across 18 counties.
Administered by FloridaCommerce, the Broadband Opportunity Program funds the installation and deployment of broadband internet infrastructure in unserved Florida communities, providing valuable access to telehealth, economic, educational and workforce development opportunities to offer a brighter future for all Floridians.
For a list of projects awarded through the Multipurpose Community Facilities Projects Program, CLICK HERE.
For a list of projects awarded through the Broadband Opportunity Program, CLICK HERE.
For more information on Florida’s broadband initiatives, visit the Office of Broadband’s webpage.