WASHINGTON — Improving rural Nevada’s broadband infrastructure has been in the works since before the COVID-19 pandemic, but picked up speed during the pandemic. On Friday, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it had awarded $7.3 million to expand broadband connectivity in Spring Creek, just outside of Elko.
“During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, broadband connectivity has been revealed as a cornerstone to business resiliency, education opportunities, financial literacy, access to employment and health care through telemedicine,” said a spokesperson for Western Nevada Development District. WNDD has been conducting the state’s “speed test” to gather data on broadband connectivity throughout the state.
Commerce Department officials said the funded project will serve nearly 5,600 households along with 169 businesses 21 anchor institutions in the area.
U.S. Senator for Nevada Jacky Rosen was part of the funding announcement alongside Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. Rosen helped to write the broadband section of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which was signed into law in November 2021.
“Expanded access to broadband is critical for the success of communities across Nevada, particularly in rural areas of our state,” said Senator Rosen.
Raimondo said that in Nevada about 14% of households don’t have an internet subscription, and more than 8% live in an area without broadband infrastructure—about 120,000 residents.
“This is an incredible injustice, and today, the Biden-Harris Administration reaffirms our commitment to reversing it,” Raimondo said. “These awards will help us close the digital divide in Nevada and across the country, and we will not stop our work until all Americans can access the internet and participate in our modern economy.”
Nevada is one of 12 states and one territory to receive a broadband grant. In all, $277 million will be used in this round of funding to connect more than 133,000 households to the internet.