TOPEKA — Lieutenant Governor and Commerce Secretary David Toland announced Monday that the Kansas Office of Broadband Development will be bringing its “Kansas Broadband Roadshow” statewide starting this week. Beginning in Emporia on Wednesday, February 15, Broadband personnel will travel the state to learn first-hand from Kansans about Internet access and its availability in their communities.
The meetings will provide the Broadband Office with a basic understanding of the current connectivity landscape across Kansas to develop an effective five-year strategic action plan and advocate for digital equity across the state.
“Now more than ever, reliable broadband is needed to support jobs, lifelong learning, access to essential services and strong family relationships,” said Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland. “By listening to diverse communities across the state, we will be better able to address the specific challenges different areas face as we work towards Governor Kelly’s goal of connecting every Kansan that wants access by 2030.”
The Office of Broadband officially kicked off its commitment process on January 19 at the inaugural Kansas Broadband Summit. Staff gathered input from invested communities and partners to ensure strategic engagement. The upcoming public meetings will allow Kansan citizens from across the state to discuss their experiences, needs and opportunities in relation to high-speed access and development.
The office will hold events in 25-30 locations across the state. Particular attention will be paid to groups and communities that have historically been disproportionately affected by digital inequalities. These groups include low-income families, older populations, people with disabilities or language barriers, racial and ethnic minorities, rural dwellers, incarcerated people, and veterans.
“Before funds are allocated for broadband support, states are tasked with creating a strategic and thoughtful approach to using the dollars they will receive to bring broadband to underprivileged communities,” said Jade Piros de Carvalho, director of the Broadband Development Office. “This listening tour will be instrumental in creating and strategically developing a planning document to connect and support all Kansans.”
The plans will be submitted to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) before the funds are dispersed. All 50 states and six U.S. territories have applied for planning grant funding from the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program and the Digital Equity Act program. Grant awards for all 56 eligible entities will be announced on an ongoing basis.
The listening tours will consist of both on-site and virtual focus groups. Scheduled public engagement sessions, as well as additional dates and locations, are available at www.kansascommerce.gov/officeofbroadbanddevelopment/broadbandroadshow/.
More information about federal broadband efforts can be found at AffordableConnectivity.gov and InternetforAll.gov.