Arizona To Expand Broadband Connectivity Along Interstate 40 West

Governor Ducey, ADOT, ACA, SCN Announce $68.1 Million Investment In The ‘State Led Corridor’

Governor Doug Ducey today announced the next step in the state’s efforts for all Arizonans to receive fast, affordable and reliable high-speed internet: an investment of $68.1 million to expand broadband connectivity along Interstate 40 West from Flagstaff to the California border.

“Arizonans, visitors and commerce rely on high-speed internet connectivity for efficiency and safety,” Governor Ducey said at the ADOT North Central District Office. “That’s why we’ve prioritized the expansion of broadband infrastructure in every corner of our state. This critical infrastructure will give more homes fast internet, improve public safety, increase access to education and help more Arizonans get the care they need through telemedicine.”

In partnership with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) and Sun Corridor Network (SCN), the expansion sustains the momentum of the Statewide Middle-Mile Network, which is currently underway adding connectivity along I-17 and I-19.

“In the digital age, broadband is an important utility for Arizona families, businesses and students,” said Rep. Regina Cobb of LD5. “I’m proud to see the next step of our State Led Corridor take root along I-40 – totaling 400 miles of broadband combined along I-17, I-19 and I-40. Investments in broadband mean safer highways, healthier Arizonans and better connectivity to live, work and play. I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Ducey to bring internet connectivity to our tribal, rural and underserved communities.”

According to the Arizona Broadband Statewide Middle-Mile Strategic Plan released last month, I-40 West is a priority corridor for broadband network development to bring connectivity to Coconino, Yavapai and Mohave counties, as well as the underserved communities of Flagstaff, Bellemont, Williams, Ash Fork, Seligman and Kingman.

“A strong broadband network is vital to a strong economy,” said Rep. Joanne Osborne of LD13. “We’ve made significant investments to expand high-speed broadband to many areas of the state and enable local communities to construct or improve broadband infrastructure. Today’s announcement is another important step in connecting all of Arizona, my thanks to Governor Ducey for his leadership.”

The Middle-Mile Strategic Plan identified households that are either unserved or underserved throughout the state. Of those households, 91 percent of households are within a five mile radius of Arizona’s interstates and state routes.

The State’s efforts on I-17, I-19, and I-40 West spark the process of connecting these households with the internet.

BACKGROUND
In 2013, before Governor Ducey was elected, Arizona ranked 35th in the nation for internet access. In 2018, three years into the Ducey administration, Arizona jumped to 14th in the nation.

On November 15, 2021 Governor Ducey announced a $100 million commitment to expand high-speed broadband to unserved or underserved areas of the state, making it one of the single largest broadband investments in state history.

On May 10, 2021, the Governor signed legislation aimed at expanding broadband access in Arizona, advancing a commitment outlined in his 2021 State of the State address. The legislation allows private broadband providers to install, operate and maintain telecommunications equipment within ADOT’s rights-of-way. It also allows ADOT to grant access to its own broadband conduit to private telecommunications companies in a non-exclusive and non-discriminatory manner — reducing the cost of installing rural broadband infrastructure.

Introduced in the fiscal year 2021 Executive Budget and championed by the Governor, the state invested $100 million to build broadband corridors along Interstate 19 and Interstate 17 to serve as the backbone in providing broadband services allowing for the acceleration of economic development, enhancing education, expanding access to healthcare, improving public safety, and modernizing government services.

As part of the fiscal year 2020 budget, Governor Ducey and the state Legislature invested $3 million to establish the Rural Broadband Development Grant Program, which was designed to help local rural leaders build high-speed internet infrastructure. In September 2019, the Arizona Commerce Authority opened applications for the program. The Governor’s $100 million commitment in November will bolster funding for the grants.

The fiscal year 2018 budget allocated $3 million to fund broadband connectivity for rural and/or high poverty schools and libraries in need of internet connections. This $3 million investment has allowed greater amounts of federal funding for these projects to be drawn down from the Federal Communications Commission.

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