Communities in Clay, St. Johns and Putnam counties will benefit from some of more than $144 million in state grants that will expand broadband internet service in rural areas of Florida.
The grants will fund 58 broadband expansion projects in 41 counties that will help almost 160,000 unserved locations, state officials said Thursday.
“Connecting these communities, particularly in rural and small areas of the state, is really going to be a game-changer to get these folks the opportunities they need to participate in job training; to expand what they have got going in their lives and improve everything around them,” said Ben Melnick, deputy secretary for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
The grants, through the Broadband Opportunity Program, will fund installation of broadband internet infrastructure to provide access to telehealth, economic, educational and workforce development opportunities, state officials said.
Among the Northeast Florida communities that will benefit:
- CLAY COUNTY: Keystone Heights, Clay Hill, Middleburg, McRae and Virginia Village, $1.88 million — Provide fiber optics services to 1,917 homes, 42 businesses and eight community anchor institutions in those Clay County communities, capable of symmetrical download and upload speeds of 100 MBPS.
- PUTNAM COUNTY, $1.19 million — Add 60 miles of fiber optic cable to the existing network to provide fiber optics services to 1,192 locations in Putnam County with symmetrical download and upload speeds of 1GB.
- PUTNAM COUNTY: Bostwick, Pomona Park, Interlachen, Melrose, Welaka, Putnam Hall, George’s Lake and Unincorporated Crescent City, $4.49 million — Deploy fiber optic cable service to 2,986 unserved and underserved locations within Putnam County with minimum download speeds of 50 MBPS and upload speeds of 10 MBPS.
- ST. JOHNS COUNTY: Riverdale; Flagler Estates and Spuds, $1.83 million — Add 118 miles of fiber optic cable to provide FTTH services to 1,603 unserved and underserved locations in St. Johns County with minimum symmetrical download and upload speeds of 1 GBPS.
In announcing the grants, Gov. Ron DeSantis said that broadband internet access creates jobs and enhances educational opportunities. He indicated there would be continued investments through the program.
For information about the state’s Office of Broadband, go to FloridaJobs.org/Broadband.