NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut is set to use $42.9 million in American Rescue Plan funding that will expand or improve broadband infrastructure for families and businesses in underserved areas across the state.

“It’s about investing in the people of the community,” Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-3) said. “That’s what this is all about. Broadband is critical to moving our economy to recovery. It’s about growth, being competitive, and improving people’s way of life.”

“If you want to be a productive student, a productive parent in this state, you must have access to high-speed internet,” U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said.

According to the state, 23% — nearly ¼ of Connecticut’s population — does not have access to high-speed internet. Ending the digital divide by providing equitable internet access is the state’s goal.

“It’s not just the price of the monthly bill,” Murphy said. “It’s the price of a high-speed connection. Too often the private internet companies are willing to bring the wires to the high-income neighborhoods but not the lower.”

The state’s federal COVID-19 relief funding will allow the state to build out broadband infrastructure for 10,000 homes and businesses. Private internet companies will bid out to do the projects, building upon the progress already made in Connecticut.

“It’s been a dynamic couple of years, I mean, we have seen a lot of investment on the private side, so our goal here is to position federal dollars to fill in the gaps,” said Katie Dykes, the commissioner of DEEP.

Communities like East Hartford and New Britain have taken it upon themselves to get all of their community members online, hiring private firms to bring fiber optic internet to residents.

Through the state’s broadband program, they’re promising download speeds of 1 gigabit per second and upload speeds of 100 megabits per second.

Work will begin next year once the state identifies all of the areas in need of internet access. The goal is to have these communities all online by 2026.