Legislature passes, Little signs Broadband funding bill

Idaho will now have over $124 million to build broadband capacity in some of Idaho’s hardest to reach locations. (Photo by Jason Richard via Unsplash)

BOISE —  Gov. Brad Little signed a measure on Monday that advocates said will be a record investment in reliable, affordable, accessible, and open access broadband for rural Idaho’s unserved and underserved communities.

Idaho will now have over $124 million to build broadband capacity in some of Idaho’s hardest to reach locations, ensuring Idaho can fix the digital divide once and for all, advocates said.

“We are grateful for Gov. Little, who took swift action in signing this important funding program” said Imagine Idaho Executive Director, Christina Culver. “Further we applaud the 2023 Idaho legislature’s support and the IBAB’s strategic plan and vison for the state and its people. This money is a once in a lifetime opportunity to change lives, promote competition, and ensure Idahoans can learn, work, and play no matter wherein Idaho they live, by having reliable high-speed internet.”

The $124.1 million in funding will go toward broadband infrastructure projects for local communities in Idaho as decided by the IBAB, with the support from Idaho Department of Commerce, Office of Broadband. In the coming weeks, the funds will be awarded by the Idaho Broadband Advisory Board to shovel-ready broadband infrastructure projects benefiting the unserved and underserved communities of Idaho.

These projects will allow communities to have access to reliable, affordable, high-speed internet. The grants are expected to impact small businesses, schools, hospitals, citizens, and more across the state. These funds will provide grants to highly anticipated projects throughout the state and will take a major step towards serving rural communities with the same speeds and reliability of services as that of the urban areas. Imagine

As projects are awarded, open access will be a key factor in the Board’s decision making to incentivize infrastructure that will increase competition, reliability, and affordability in the area.

Imagine Idaho Foundation is an Idaho-based 501(c) (3) non-profit created in 2020. Its goal is to bring broadband infrastructure to rural Idaho.