Connecting all Arizonans to digital opportunities continues to be vital


In a world increasingly driven by digital connectivity, access to the internet is no longer a luxury, it is a fundamental necessity that allows Arizonans to communicate, learn, work, socialize, and access essential services.  The Covid pandemic only magnified the challenges faced by those in our state who still lack access to high-speed internet.Fortunately, there has been leadership from both private providers and public leaders to allocate significant investments to provide for infrastructure to move forward to bridge our state’s digital divide and ensure connectivity reaches every corner of our state.  We must now work together to make sure that these critical broadband investments are put to their best use so that no community is left behind. 
Susan Bitter Smith
There is certainly more work to be done to achieve a fully connected Arizona, but we have already made considerable progress in the past few years. Critical work has been done in our tribal communities, in rural areas in the central part of our state, and in our towns on our southern border. Now with more than $993 million allocated to Arizona from Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) grants, we have the historic opportunity to fully transform unserved communities across our state.   
The transformational BEAD grants and the ongoing private investment in broadband will play a significant role in bringing connectivity to the rural, often hardest to reach communities in our state. Resources themselves, however, are not enough to bridge the broadband gap.  Our state leaders must guarantee these investments are maximized for reliable connectivity efforts.  One way they can do that is to partner with reputable, proven broadband providers that have already demonstrated a commitment and a track record of success in connecting our communities. 
This includes our state’s cable broadband providers that have built, and are continuing to build, the future ready networks that already connect millions of homes and small businesses across the state, including many in rural, difficult-to-reach regions.
For years, we have envisioned a fully connected Arizona, in which every resident has equitable access to reliable high-speed internet, regardless of ZIP code. This vision will become reality if our state leaders work together with providers that have proven technical expertise, resources, and commitment to connecting all Arizonans to digital opportunity. 
Susan Bitter Smith is executive director of Southwest Cable Communications Association 
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