Nebraska gets $87.7 million in additional funds for broadband expansion

By: - August 30, 2022 8:00 pm

An ultra fast broadband towers is seen on a rural farm. (Sandra Mu/Getty Images)

LINCOLN — Nebraska is getting an additional $87.7 million for its so-called Broadband Bridge program to improve high-speed internet services across the state.

The U.S. Department of Treasury announced the award Tuesday. The funding is part of the American Rescue Plan Act and part of President Joe Biden’s push to improve broadband coverage.

The new funding for Nebraska is estimated to serve 21,000 households and provide high-speed internet service to 23% of the households now lacking it.

Dan Watermeier, the chairman of the Nebraska Public Service Commission, said the PSC is working with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development to administer the new funds.

“This new funding along with what is currently in place will make a big impact on helping to provide broadband to the unserved and underserved areas of our state,” Watermeier said.

The Nebraska Legislature had previously allocated $20 million to the Broadband Bridge program. This spring, lawmakers added an additional $80 million in ARPA funds for high-speed internet expansion in the state’s 1st and 3rd Congressional Districts.

The goal of the state’s Broadband Bridge program is to provide high-speed internet service, defined as 100 Mbps upload speed and 100 download speed, in un- and underserved areas of Nebraska.

Kate Ellingson, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, said applications for the new broadband funds will be taken at a later date.

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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska Legislature and Nebraska state government for decades. He started his career reporting for the Omaha Sun and later, editing the Papillion Times group in suburban Omaha. He joined the Lincoln Journal-Star as a sports enterprise reporter, and then a roving reporter covering southeast Nebraska. In 1990, he was hired by the Omaha World-Herald as a legislative reporter. Later, for 15 years, he roamed the state covering all kinds of news and feature stories. In the past decade, he served as chief of the Lincoln Bureau and enterprise reporter. Paul has won awards for reporting from Great Plains Journalism, the Associated Press, Nebraska Newspaper Association and Suburban Newspapers of America. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation, a member of the Nebraska Hop Growers and a volunteer caretaker of Irvingdale Park in Lincoln.