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Internet connectivity programs for CT could be impacted by federal budget cuts

A worker  installs fiber optic cable on a utility pole. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, file)
Ted S. Warren
A worker installs fiber optic cable on a utility pole.

The state of Connecticut released its plan to connect residents with high-speed internet two weeks ago — and it may already face federal funding issues.

The state previously received $150 million from the federal government’s Internet For All initiative. That program is funded by $65 billion from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

But according to U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-3), the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, budget cuts could shave the program — and others that help Connecticut — down.

“I'll be very blunt with you,” DeLauro said. “If it's level funded, we need to consider it a win. That is because the danger is that, what they have done, is to go below the 2023 numbers.”

The state program provides affordable internet connection and devices, digital literacy training at local libraries and tech support.

DeLauro said the American Community Survey found that as many as 88,000 households across the state do not have access to the internet.

“The internet is a necessity today in our lives,” DeLauro said. “You cannot participate in today's economy nor society without having a reliable connection to the internet. Having a secure, consistent connection to the internet is necessary for every one of us.”

Gov. Ned Lamont (D) called on federal legislators to keep the high-speed internet plan — and the government — funded.

“I really hope that Senator Blumenthal is right when he says this partisan freeze may be thawing a little bit,” Lamont said. “There's a lot of loose talk down there, on the other side of the aisle, about shutdowns. We know in government, we can't shut down. We’ve got to keep going. These are the types of services that are absolutely invaluable to people to be able to apply for in the 21st century.”

Lamont said the state is prepared to step in and help with funding if needed.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.
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