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Arizona Commerce Authority announces statewide broadband middle-mile strategic plan

The Arizona Commerce Authority, in partnership with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), announced today the Arizona Statewide Broadband Middle-Mile Strategic Plan, which supports current broadband expansion efforts on Interstate 17 and Interstate 19. The Strategic Plan has led to the creation of the Statewide Middle-Mile Network, which aims to increase broadband service along I-17 and I-19 and future expansion along additional interstate and state highways.

Designated corridors for fiber optic conduit installation for the Middle-Mile Network include 141 miles for I-17 between Flagstaff and Phoenix and 60 miles for I-19 between Tucson and Nogales. Both routes combined will add 200 miles of broadband conduit by early 2023.

“As more people and businesses choose our great state, we’re committed to ensuring all Arizonans have access to reliable, high-speed internet,” said Governor Doug Ducey. “This next phase of broadband expansion will strengthen Arizonans’ connection to educational programs, medical services, public safety and jobs. I look forward to the continued work on this effort to expand opportunities for Arizonans in every corner of our growing state.” 

The Strategic Plan identifies 726,357 households in Arizona within a five mile radius of Arizona’s interstates and state routes that are either unserved or underserved in basic broadband connectivity. The State’s efforts on I-17 and I-19 will have the ability to address 148,305 of these households. 

“We are excited to announce this Strategic Plan as the next phase in our broadband expansion efforts,” said Sandra Watson, President and CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “The Arizona Broadband Office and ADOT will continue to work closely on this initiative to connect more residents, strengthening economic development across Arizona. We are grateful for Governor Ducey’s leadership on this effort, and look forward to seeing the network progression this year.”

“The Arizona Department of Transportation is proud to be a part of this important work because reliable high-speed internet is a necessity in the 21st century economy, “ said ADOT Director John Halikowski. “ADOT recently established a dedicated Broadband Office and we are excited by the progress of two active projects along I-17 and I-19, that will add 200 miles of broadband conduit by early 2023. Everyone depends on high-speed internet to do their jobs, get an education and participate in civic life every day. This work helps us fulfill ADOT’s mission to connect Arizona; everyone, everywhere and every day.” 

I-17, I-19, I-10 and I-40 are identified as the highest priority from the Strategic Plan, which represent about 90 percent of the overall potential for major interstate highways. Current efforts on I-17 and I-19 as well as future expansion will need to support reliable and affordable 100 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 20 Mbps upload minimum speeds to population centers and businesses located within a five-mile radius of the interstate highways and state routes. 

“The Middle-Mile Network implementation will increase access to high-speed, reliable broadband for Arizonans, including rural areas,” said Representative Regina Cobb of LD 5. “Reliable internet is critical for education, work, health, transportation, public safety and more, which is why I have focused my efforts to increase access for all Arizonans. I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor, broadband experts and rural community members in the future as we make progress on this phase of broadband expansion.”

“Connectivity is more important than ever, especially in our underserved urban and rural communities,” said Representative Diego Espinoza of LD19. “This new Broadband Plan will provide more opportunities for Arizonans to connect, learn and work with reliable internet. I am proud to continue my longtime support for broadband investment that will positively impact many in the communities I serve, and throughout all corners of Arizona.”

Broadband expansion along I-17 and I-19 and other interstate and state highways in Arizona will also help address public and private sector connectivity requirements, promote economic development, improve public safety, and encourage innovation in modern technology adoption and support environmental sustainability and quality of life for Arizonans. 

“The Middle-Mile Broadband Network is another step forward in connecting Arizonans,” said Representative Joanne Osborne of LD 13. “Everyday tasks including education, work and telehealth all depend on a strong broadband connection. The Middle-Mile Network will provide access to more Arizonans, leading to safer highways, connected communities and healthier Arizonans. I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor, broadband experts and rural community members on this important issue.”

The Middle-Mile Network adds to the significant steps in recent years to increase broadband access. Arizona in 2019 allocated $3 million for Rural Broadband Development Grants. The funding helped enhance broadband infrastructure and increased download speeds for communities of Bullhead City, Page and Payson, while funding planning grants in other parts of the state. In 2022, Arizona allocated $100 million for the Arizona Broadband Development Grant to fund broadband development statewide.   

View the Arizona Statewide Broadband Middle-Mile Strategic Plan HERE.


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