Internet for All in Washington
The Washington State Broadband Office is leading a state planning process to develop a Five-Year Action Plan and a State Digital Equity Plan. These two plans will establish eligibility for federal funding to deliver significant investments for the expansion of broadband access and to help close the digital divide in the state of Washington.
The Internet for All in Washington initiative will create strategies to ensure reliable, high-speed Internet across the state of Washington, along with opportunities to invest in digital equity programs to make sure that in addition to Internet access, people also have the tools and skill sets necessary to fully take advantage of the benefits that come with digital inclusion.
About the project
The Biden-Harris Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) provides $65 billion in funding for high-speed internet efforts through multiple federal grant programs. Each eligible entity, including states and territories, will conduct their own planning and program development using funds from these grants.
The BIL funnels a high percentage of broadband funding into broadband infrastructure and digital equity through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program and the Digital Equity programs. These programs will provide more than $48 billion for infrastructure deployment, internet installation, digital equity programs, workforce development and training, digital literacy and skills education, and the adoption of high-speed internet to connect Americans with their communities, their democracy, and the economy. The state of Washington is focusing its efforts in completing the required planning for these programs. These planning efforts will establish eligibility for funds that will deliver results for all who call Washington home. The final amount of total federal funding will be calculated through a formula allocation based on the number of unserved and underserved residences and businesses in the state.
The BEAD program, as defined by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), is “a program to get all Americans online by funding partnerships between states or territories, communities, and stakeholders to build infrastructure where we need it and to increase adoption of high-speed internet.” The program provides $42.45 billion for infrastructure planning and implementation nationwide.
The Digital Equity programs provide $2.75 billion in nationwide funding to promote digital inclusion and advance equity for all by engaging communities to build their capabilities in accessing and utilizing affordable, reliable high-speed Internet to meet their needs and improve their living standards.
For more information on the BEAD and Digital Equity programs and other broadband related federal funding programs visit the federal government’s Internet for All website.
Broadband access is essential for everyday activities such as working from home, remote learning, telehealth, staying connected to communities, and social interaction. That is why the Broadband Office strives to improve both the adoption and availability of broadband services for Washington State residents.
Unfortunately, affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet has remained inaccessible to some communities in the United States, restricting their ability to have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society. According to the 2017-2021 United States Census Bureau, 91 percent of households in Washington have a broadband Internet subscription, which still translates to roughly 264,000 households that have not adopted broadband services.
Given this, Internet for All in Washington plans must involve any of these three parts:
- Expanding access of broadband networks
- Encouraging adoption by individuals, families & businesses who do not currently have internet
- Securing affordable internet services
Access ensures Americans have access to high-quality, high-speed internet services to support full participation in the 21st century economy and beyond. Affordability supports the use of broadband services, especially in low-income households, which can foster a system that promotes long-term, sustainable, and affordable solutions. Adoption and digital literacy skill building makes investments to ensure Americans can participate in economy & society, reducing inequities across sectors, including healthcare, workforce & education. The delivery of resources and programs to unserved and underserved areas of the state will have a customer centric approach that will be local in its approach, yet regional in its delivery.
The Broadband Office strives to integrate the diverse voices of Washington State throughout the planning process that help ensure equitable, scalable, and sustainable outcomes. To emphasize these efforts into the planning process, the Broadband Office will organize a comprehensive public involvement plan to collect input and insight from stakeholders.
Washington State residents will have opportunities and platforms to voice their comments, concerns, and lived experiences relating to internet access and digital inclusion. There will be multiple in person and hybrid listening sessions and focus groups across the state. Internet for All in Washington will also be surveying the population to discover gaps and opportunities related to broadband services within the state. Tribal coordination and consultation will also be essential.
To assist in the statewide planning efforts, WSBO has partnered with Washington State University (WSU) Extension to aid in local level efforts to gather community input and develop local plans. WSU Extension are focusing this work through coordination with Broadband Action Team (BAT) regional offices and outreach programs. You can view their calendar, including their workshops, office hours, and community meetings, by visiting the WSU Extension Broadband Resources page.
Review the Plans
Washington state’s BEAD 5-Year Action Plan serves as the foundational comprehensive needs assessment that will inform the subsequent planning elements required by NTIA under the Internet for All program. Comments on the BEAD Five Year Action Plan are being accepted through October 15, 2023 and may be sent to InternetforAll@Commerce.wa.gov.
Comments on the BEAD Five Year Action Plan accepted through October 15, 2023.
- September 26, 2023 – Southridge Sports and Events Complex, Numerica Pavilion Conference Room 2901 Southridge Blvd, Kennewick, WA 99338 (5:00-7:00 p.m.)
- September 27, 2023 – Burlington Public Library, Skagit River Side Room (5:00-7:00 p.m.); Address: 820 E Washington Ave, Burlington, WA 98233
- September 28, 2023 – Seattle Central Library, Level 4 Room 1 (4:00-6:00 p.m.); Address: 1000 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98104
The Washington State Broadband Office is continuing community outreach and engagement for the state broadband plans that will unlock federal resources to create a stronger more inclusive broadband opportunity for all Washingtonians. Through December 2023, we will host monthly BEAD updates with a Q&A opportunity on the fourth Wednesday of every month. Register for the upcoming webinars now.
These will be hosted via Zoom and will provide an opportunity for you to find out about the efforts to expand affordable and reliable Internet access to everyone in the state, while giving you a platform to submit comments and questions.
- September 27, 2023: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
- October 25, 2023: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
- Watch recording from March 29, 2023, kickoff meeting (on YouTube)
- Watch recording from June 7, 2023 (on TVW)
- Watch recording from June 8, 2023 (on TVW)
- Watch recording from June 9, 2023 (on TVW)
- Watch recording from June 28, 2023 (on TVW)
- Watch recording from July 26, 2023 (on TVW)
- Watch recording from August 23, 2023 (on TVW)
Washingtonians have submitted comments during our engagement over the past several months, and we want you to know that we are listening. To see what others are sharing with us, view our community feedback records (on Box).
- Internet for All in Washington kickoff video (on YouTube)
- Internet for All in Washington kickoff presentation (PDF)
- Internet for All in Washington Kickoff Event Transcript English (Word)
- Internet for All in Washington Kickoff Event Transcript Spanish (Word)
- Inside Olympia interviews Director Mark Vasconi on Internet for All (on TVW.Org)