TOPEKA – Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland today announced the Kansas Office of Broadband Development will take its “Kansas Broadband Roadshow” across the state beginning this week. Starting in Emporia on Wednesday, February 15, Broadband staff will travel the state to learn directly from Kansans about internet access and its availability in their communities.
The meetings will give the Broadband Office a grassroots understanding of the current connectivity landscape throughout Kansas to develop an effective five-year strategic action plan and support statewide digital equity.
“Now more than ever, reliable broadband is necessary to support employment, lifelong learning, access to essential services and strong family relationships,” Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland said. “By listening to diverse communities across the state, we will be able to better address the specific challenges different areas face as we work toward Governor Kelly’s goal of getting every Kansan who wants access connected by 2030.”
The Office of Broadband officially kicked off its engagement 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 Kansans from across the state the chance to discuss their experiences, needs and opportunities as it relates to high-speed access and development.
The office will hold events at 25 to 30 locations around the state. Special attention will be paid to groups and communities that historically have been disproportionately impacted by digital inequities. These groups include low-income households, aging populations, people with disabilities or language barriers, racial and ethnic minorities, rural inhabitants, incarcerated individuals, and veterans.
“Before funds are allocated for broadband support, states are tasked with creating a strategic, thoughtful approach to using the dollars they will receive to bring broadband to underserved communities,” said Jade Piros de Carvalho, Director of the Office of Broadband Development. “This listening tour will be foundational in the creation and strategic development of a planning document to connect and support all Kansans.”
Plans will be submitted to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) before funds are dispersed. All 50 U.S. states and six territories 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 a rolling basis.
The listening tours will consist of both onsite and virtual focus groups. Scheduled public engagement sessions as well as additional dates and locations can be found at www.kansascommerce.gov/officeofbroadbanddevelopment/broadbandroadshow/.