- The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity submitted the Florida Strategic Plan for Broadband to state leaders on Thursday
- The plan seeks to expand broadband connectivity across Florida
- The agency places a focus on rural, underserved, and unserved areas of the state
- The plan received input from a variety of state agencies including the Department of Education, Department of Health, and Florida Small Counties Coalition
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) on Thursday submitted the Florida Strategic Plan for Broadband to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Senate President Wilton Simpson, and House Speaker Chris Sprowls detailing the goals and strategies to improve and expand broadband Internet connectivity in Florida.
In order to create a connected economy that results in a more capable workforce, more educational opportunities, and better-connected Floridians, the Florida Strategic Plan for Broadband proposes a three-step process to cater to rural, unserved, and underserved areas of the state. The strategy supports worker housing, economic growth, workforce education, and job training.
“The submission of Florida’s Strategic Plan for Broadband is a historic milestone and, under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, DEO is proud to lead our state’s mission to accountably expand broadband access to all Floridians,” said DEO Secretary Dane Eagle. “Florida communities, especially rural communities across the state, will greatly benefit from broadband Internet infrastructure investments that will support their efforts to diversify their economies, increase job opportunities, and improve access to quality health and education services.”
Florida’s Department of Education, Department of Health, and Florida Small Counties Coalition, among others, collaborated with industry leaders, partners, and stakeholders throughout the state in order to establish the Florida Strategic Plan for Broadband.
The Sunshine State ranked 10th in the nation in 2022, up from 16th in the nation in 2021, when Florida even trailed mostly rural Nevada and telecom-challenged mountain states like Colorado and Washington. But with demand for video conferencing, live streaming video, and bandwidth-intensive entertainment, internet service providers have responded by adding capacity for consumers.
Over the past year, Florida leapfrogged even highly-networked East Coast powerhouses like New Hampshire and New York. For comparison, in 2021, Florida’s max internet speed clocked in at 102 Megabits per second (Mbps), barely besting the national average that year by 3 Mbps. But in 2022, almost every state has raised the bar, boosting the national average to just a hair over 119 Mbps. At the same time, though, Florida’s internet service providers have found ways to increase average speeds to 127.8 Mbps, easily outpacing national improvements and six states that only made marginal gains in speed.
Internet speed and data access is an important measure of economic infrastructure and business environment, which factors into a broad range of other rankings for business, education, and general economic output.