Grants to expand access to over 13,400 homes, businesses and communities
SANTA FE — Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday announced the recipients of $38.6 million in funding under the Connect New Mexico pilot program, the most ambitious broadband expansion effort in history. of State. Initial funding is supplemented by $28.3 million in non-state funding for a total investment of $66.9 million, with plans to expand access to more than 13,400 homes, businesses, farms, ranches and institutions communities across New Mexico.
The funds are the first of $120 million disbursed under the Connect New Mexico pilot program, advancing the governor’s priority of ensuring statewide broadband access. Once expanded beyond the pilot phase, the program will leverage historic state and federal investments in broadband to improve access through a state matching grant program that combines the state and federal funding to the local vision and experience of New Mexico communities, tribes, and broadband providers.
“Connect New Mexico is focused on expanding access to health care, education and economic opportunity by bringing broadband to New Mexico communities – because in the 21st century, internet access is essential infrastructure,” said Governor Lujan Grisham. “Improving this access opens many doors – allowing students to easily complete homework, local small businesses to sell products online, rural New Mexicans to take advantage of telehealth services, and more. This work has never been more urgent, and we look forward to making the Connect New Mexico vision a reality across our state. I am grateful to the New Mexico Congressional Delegation for their work in securing these dollars. federal authorities through the American Rescue Plan Act.
The initial grants were awarded to a diverse group of grantees, with projects supporting fully scalable broadband infrastructure that will serve their communities for decades into the future.
“The first wave of Connect New Mexico pilot program grants will expand broadband infrastructure to bring resources to the communities that need it most, laying the foundation for continued economic growth,” said the Office Director. broadband access and expansion. Kelly Schlegel. “Access to reliable high-speed internet is essential for our state’s homes and businesses, and under the governor’s leadership, we are creating a roadmap for our state to build 21st century communities. Throughout this landmark multi-year build, the Office of Broadband Access and Expansion is committed to ensuring that this program benefits those who need it most, boosting education, jobs and opportunity economics for all of New Mexico in the process.
“New Mexico is laying the foundation for bridging the digital divide in our state by bringing reliable and affordable high-speed Internet to communities where it is not accessible,” said the acting chairman of the Council of the New Mexico from Connect. Kimball Sekaquaptewa. “For those on the wrong side of the digital divide, today begins our march toward universal access to fast, reliable, and affordable internet for all New Mexicans.”
Internet access is critical to community and socio-economic development in the state of New Mexico, and the Connect New Mexico pilot program addresses the needs of key industries and business sectors facing a lack of access due to several factors, including their location.
“We greatly appreciate the financial support from the Office of Broadband and the State of New Mexico,” said the general manager of the Socorro Electrical Cooperative. Joseph Herrera. “This pilot project is a game-changer for the Village of Magdalena and the Municipal School District of Magdalena, as approximately 300 currently unserved homes, businesses, and institutions will upgrade from sub-25/3 Mbps speeds to symmetrical, and potentially faster, 1 Gbps. in the future as the demand for bandwidth-intensive applications increases.
“Ethos Broadband is excited to extend its current fiber project to the Sierra County site to reach households and businesses in key parts of Truth or Consequences and Williamsburg,” said Nectarios “Neo” Nicolaou, CEO of Sacred Wind. “Ethos Broadband’s state-of-the-art fiber network will provide unserved and underserved customers with broadband access speeds of up to 1 Gbps symmetrical. Once both projects are completed, Sierra County will be considered one of the most “wired” rural counties in New Mexico. This robust network will allow people in these communities to access online resources such as telehealth, distance learning and remote work opportunities. It will also greatly enhance efforts to promote economic growth in the region.
Grant applications were reviewed and assessed on a competitive basis, with proposals being evaluated in eight categories: Broadband Impact, Community Support, Economic Effectiveness, Project Readiness, Organizational Qualifications, Marketing and Services Strategy, adoption support programs and project sustainability.
“Central New Mexico Electric, Inc. was created by its members to strengthen the rural areas in which it operates,” said Alena Brandenberger, CEO of Central New Mexico Electric Cooperative. “With a vision to serve and strengthen our families, schools and businesses while fostering value-added growth, we at the Cooperative are thrilled to have the opportunity and privilege to safely provide service reliable and affordable broadband.”
“Comcast appreciates the opportunity to partner with the New Mexico Connect pilot program to bring fiber broadband service to thousands of unserved homes and community locations in Doña Ana County,” said Chris Dunkeson, regional vice president of Comcast in New Mexico. “In partnership with the county, dozens of community organizations and broadband advocates, Comcast is committed to taking the holistic approach needed to close the digital divide in this area, which includes access, adoption, affordability and continuing education. We look forward to working with the Office of Broadband Access and Expansion to improve connectivity in New Mexico.
Applications are now being accepted until December 9, 2022 for the second wave of funding and until February 27, 2023 for the third and final wave of funding. Applications will be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. Applications received during a wave that do not receive funding will automatically be considered for the next wave of funding.
The New Mexico Office of Broadband Access and Expansion, in conjunction with the Connect New Mexico Council, plans to launch the comprehensive Connect New Mexico Broadband Grant Program, as outlined in the Connect New Mexico Act, at the start of by 2023. To learn more about these grants and other programs, please visit the Office of Broadband Access and Expansion.