Florida doles out $135M for broadband expansion in more than 30 counties

Florida awarded on Friday $135 million in state funding to 54 broadband expansion projects that will cover over 27,000 unserved residential, educational, agricultural, business and community locations across 33 counties.

That money was made available through Florida’s Broadband Opportunity Program, to which state legislature appropriated a total $400 million in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF).

Friday’s announcement also included awards totaling $86 million through the  Multipurpose Community Facilities Program, which supports the construction of community facilities that promote workforce development, educational opportunities and healthcare access in small and rural communities.

All told, Florida awarded nearly $223 million through both programs.

The list of Broadband Opportunity Program grantees is divided by cities, counties and unincorporated areas but it does not name the ISPs that will carry out the deployments.

From the 54 projects, all but two will deploy fiber broadband. The cities of Olustee and Steinhatchee each won a $5 million grant for fixed wireless projects.

Other grant winners included fiber projects for Alachua County (covering the cities of Alachua, Brooker, Gainesville, La Crosse and Waldo), Levy County (Chiefland, Cross City, Bronson, Williston, Newberry, Trenton, Bell and Archer) and a project that will add 48 miles of fiber in an unincorporated area of Holmes County.

Tribes also received a piece of the funding pie. The Miccosukee and Seminole tribes were each awarded $5 million to build fiber in Miami-Dade County and Hendry County, respectively.

“Connecting Florida’s small and rural communities to broadband internet will help them find jobs, access education resources and expand their businesses,” said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in a statement. “We will continue to make investments in broadband internet that support long-term growth for our communities, without federally imposed strings attached.”

These funding awards come after the state last May awarded $60 million in Broadband Opportunity Program funding to 22 projects across 19 counties.

In February 2023, Florida doled out $144 million from the program to 58 projects, with Comcast scoring nearly a third of the money. Charter and Cox also won grants at the time.