ONTARIO — The state’s economic development office is hosting a community meeting Wednesday, June 7, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Weese Building of Treasure Valley Community College to get input on improving internet access in the county.
At stake are billions of federal dollars to be distributed to states and different locales.
The information gathered at the meeting will be included in an application for five years of federal funding to provide high-speed and reliable internet in areas that need it most as the federal government readies to distribute $42.45 billion from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program, also known as the BEAD program, according to Daniel Holbrook, Business Oregon’s broadband office manager.
Last year the Federal Communications Commission published a national broadband map showing information about the availability of broadband access. The federal agency asked residents across the state to give feedback on the accuracy of the map, which is set to be completed at the end of June. The map was created to help determine how much federal spending would come to Oregon and then, from there, the state’s 36 counties.
Holbrook said Oregon placed in the top 10 nationwide in establishing locations eligible for federal funding to expand broadband access.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, announced Thursday, June 1, that an updated version of the national broadband map fixed significant inaccuracies that, according to Wyden’s office, could have cost the state hundreds of millions in federal funding and added nearly 50,000 additional “underserved locations.”
Holbrook said the state is also looking to learn about the level of access communities have to devices, what those communities are doing to expand access and how the state can help them build those programs.
“We’re asking communities,” Holbrook said, “what types of opportunities are there? And are there best practices that we could replicate?” Those interested in attending are encouraged to register online.
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