From its portion of the federal American Rescue Plan, Orange County has set aside around $4.4 million to provide broadband connectivity to houses without access to a high-speed line. This week, Charter Communications, the parent company of Spectrum, approved an offer by the Board of County Commissioners with no opposition. For installing fiber-optic lines in rural South Apopka and East Orange County, the county will now negotiate a three-year contract with the supplier.
In those locations, 1,200 houses lack access to broadband Internet, which has rates of at least 25 megabits per second and is quick enough to stream movies, play video games, and do schoolwork. When the construction is finished, officials anticipate that Orange will be one of the first counties in the state where every citizen will have access to high-speed Internet, which is necessary for everything from telemedicine services to paying bills and completing schoolwork.
“Access to a fast internet connection is not a luxury. It is essential in 2022, and beyond, the mayor of Jerry Demings said in a news release. “Global connectivity provides critical services like telemedicine, education, and information access, which were crucial during the pandemic. I’m happy that Orange County will soon be entirely covered by broadband coverage. Residents would have to pay for a service plan from a provider to connect, although the federal government provides a subsidy to make such programs more affordable.
According to the agenda item, Spectrum anticipates breaking ground by the end of this year and connecting the lines in 2023 and 2024. The federal pandemic relief package, which encourages states, towns, and counties to engage in broadband access programs, provided the county with around $135 million. People in Central Florida have paid attention.
In addition to Orange’s initiatives, Seminole has discovered around 780 residences in Casselberry, Winter Springs, Geneva, west Sanford, and Midway without access to high-speed Internet. It intends to spend nearly $4.7 million in federal funds to remedy it. The Lake County Commissioners supported comparative research. City officials in Orlando are attempting to determine why around 20% of the population isn’t online despite having the means to do so.
They are also trying to disseminate information about federal incentives to cut monthly fees or even provide free services. They are also extending a WiFi hotspot checkout program out of local centers. The infrastructure is expected to cost around $2.2 million, according to Orange County authorities, who anticipate that Spectrum’s costs will be lower than the $4.4 million budget. An additional $500,000 is expected to go into teaching resources and initiatives that promote digital literacy to help locals use the Internet more effectively.