Arizona Corporation Commission Vote Helps State Get $130M For Rural School Broadband Internet

By Carrie Jung
Published: Tuesday, March 14, 2017 - 6:08pm
Updated: Tuesday, March 14, 2017 - 7:22pm

The Arizona Corporation Commission has voted to approve a one-time distribution from a fund that helps telecommunications companies provide service in rural areas. That money will be used to help the state bring broadband service to currently unserved rural schools.

Officials with the Arizona Broadband for Education Initiative estimate more than $140 million is needed to cover the costs of making sure every school in the state has broadband access.

That funding will soon be made available thanks to the 2016 K-12 Broadband and Digital Learning Policy Academy grant the state won last year through a partnership between the National Governor’s Association (NGA) Center, EducationSuperHighway (ESH) and the K-12 Broadband and Digital Learning Policy Academy. The federal/private grant matches state investments 10 to one.

Stefan Swiat with the Arizona Department of education said, in the end, the program will help schools cover all costs involved with brining in the infrastructure.

"So they don’t pay a dime for this," he said. "This is a game changer."

The Arizona Universal Service Fund approved by the state Corporation Commission Tuesday will give $8 million to the program. Another $5 million is earmarked in next year’s state budget proposal, making the total state match $13 million.

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