In May of 2019, the Delaware Department of Technology and Information (DDTI) made a commitment to universal broadband access in Delaware by signing a $2 million public-private partnership with the Maryland-based high-speed internet company Bloosurf to install wireless broadband throughout the area. The project aimed to fill the low-population gaps where the installation of fiber wires was not cost effective.
On September 16, Governor John Carney and Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall Long stepped it up by announcing a $110 million investment in universal broadband in the state. It’s a project that will include a major infrastructure overhaul, especially in Kent and Sussex County. This investment, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which was signed into law on March 11 by President Joe Biden, puts Delaware on track to being the first state in the U.S. with broadband access to every home and business — one of the goals of the 2019 project.
“Access to broadband is infrastructure. Just like when our roads, bridges, and railways are broken we fix them, and we need to do the same for our access to broadband and close these gaps,” said Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long. “This critical investment from our federal government is a once in a generation opportunity for us to make a real difference and deliver meaningful investments. I’m excited about the opportunity to really put our state in a position of strength to meet the challenges of tomorrow.”
How far is Delaware from universal broadband? By the numbers, approximately 11,600 homes and businesses in Delaware lack infrastructure access to high speed internet. The majority — around 7,350 — are concentrated in rural Sussex County ZIP codes that include Laurel and Bridgeville. In Kent County, which has approximately 3,800 homes and businesses without broadband access, gaps are found around Harrington and Smyrna, which is partly in New Castle County.
New Castle County’s approximately 450 underserved homes and businesses are below Middletown; every ZIP code north of Townsend has full broadband infrastructure (though it should be noted that the presence of the infrastructure doesn’t necessarily equate “access,” as there are some in Delaware’s northern low income communities that lack actual connectivity to the available broadband).
“Building upon our prior investments in fiber and wireless broadband, it is our goal to be the first state to provide a wired internet connection to every Delaware residence and business,” said Delaware CIO Jason Clarke. “Working with our state internet service providers to deliver a reliable and scalable solution will position Delaware to meet current and future broadband demands.”
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