HURRICANE, Utah (ABC4) – Utah lawmakers say broadband is going to be a big focus this session and officials are hoping to use funds to expand internet access to residents across the state.

Residents in Cedar City say broadband is not easily accessible in rural Utah.

“You don’t have to go too far out of Cedar City to get into a place where you’re only going to have satellite or really slow DSL connection, so it’s really important that people in these areas are able to get broadband internet,” says James Jetton, of Cedar City and the Iron County Care and Share Emergency Shelter Manager.

According to the Director for the Utah Broadband Center, in the Governor’s Office of Economic Opportunity, broadband infrastructure is vital as the state continues to see growth after many challenges Utahns faced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have just completed a broadband, statewide broadband grant for providers in communities to be able to use some funds to actually put the infrastructure in, this is the first-ever for the state,” says Rebecca Dilg, Director for the Utah Broadband Center.

SC Broadband is one provider in Cedar City working to grow infrastructure as the need for broadband continues to grow in rural Utah.

“It’s not a money-making venture, but it is important for those communities and we believe in supporting them as well,” says Adam Young, a Marketing Director for SC Broadband.

According to Senate President Stuart Adams, lawmakers may see 600 to 800 million dollars go towards infrastructure this session.

“A lot of our future, future jobs, learning and schooling, are taking place online, connectivity has never been more important,” says Young.

Officials and residents say they believe the payoff for additional infrastructure will not only improve everyday life, but also benefit the state’s economy.