Nebraska getting $400 million for broadband expansion

June 28, 2023, midnight ·

Fiber being installed in rural Kansas. (Photo courtesy of Amy Bickel to Harvest Public Media)
Fiber being installed in rural Kansas. (Photo courtesy of Amy Bickel to Harvest Public Media))

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Nebraska is getting more than $400 million in federal infrastructure funds to expand broadband access in the state.

The money is part of $42 billion for broadband contained in the infrastructure bill Congress passed in 2021. Nebraska’s all-Republican congressional delegation was split over the bill, with Sen. Deb Fischer and Rep. Don Bacon voting for it, saying it was essential for economic development. Rep. Adrian Smith joined then-Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and former Sen. Ben Sasse against it, citing the increase in spending.

Monday, President Joe Biden compared the desired effect to that of another historic effort,

“What we’re doing is, as I said, not unlike what Franklin Delano Roosevelt did when he brought electricity to nearly every American home and farm in our nation. Today, (Vice President) Kamala (Harris) and I are making an equally historic investment, to connect everyone in America – everyone in America – to… an affordable high speed internet by 2030,” Biden said.

Nebraska officials now have to submit an initial proposal for how to use the money within 180 days.

State officials have released the following schedule of public meetings on broadband expansion:

Additionally, Gov. Jim Pillen has announced that he, newly-appoint Broadband Office Director Patrick Haggerty, K.C. Belitz from the Department of Economic Development (DED), and Vicki Kramer of DOT, for a fly around on July 6 to “outline his administration’s approach for connecting Nebraska.”