Nebraska Broadband Initiative

Cornhusker Economics May 13, 2015Nebraska Broadband Initiative

The Nebraska Public Service Commission, Nebraska Information Technology Commission Community Council (NITC), University of Nebraska - Lincoln (UNL), Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) and Applied Information Management (AIM) have cooperatively led the effort to address the broadband planning needs of Nebraska's communities. UNL has led the planning component and is the fiscal agent for the planning part of the grant. 

Nebraska Broadband

The Initiative began in 2009 with a focus to increase the adoption and utilization of broadband. Over the last five years, Cornhusker Economics has highlighted stages of this effort. While the funding for the Initiative ended in January 2015, the conversation continues.


Over 8,000 Nebraskans (including 600 youth) provided input into the statewide broadband plan and the eight regional plans. Input was gathered through planning teams, surveys, focus groups and forums that were conducted during the initial three years of the grant. Priority areas in the statewide plan include:

  • Broadband Availability and Affordability
  • Increased Digital Literacy
  • Economic Development
  • Agriculture

Community outreach activities were essential to building awareness about broadband. Over 2,500 individuals and businesses participated in events such as the annual broadband conference, webinars, and the tech fairs. Best practice videos have been viewed over 5,500 times (2,805 in 2014) and there have been over 26,000 visits (9,257 in 2014) to the website. Technical assistance efforts focused on the priority areas of digital literacy, economic development, and agriculture.

Changing Broadband Landscape

The broadband landscape has changed over the last five years. The deployment of fiber has increased significantly. Visit the Nebraska Broadband map to see what broadband services are available in your town or region. The data for the map, last updated in December 2014, was collected from broadband service providers, anchor institutions, and residents of Nebraska.

Broadband Coverage Map
Broadband Coverage in Nebraska

The expectations and needs of broadband have also changed. In 2009, the FCC released its National Broadband Plan. At that time, the FCC set a national broadband availability target to guide funding. The target was 4 Mbps of actual download speed and 1 Mbps of actual upload speed. This target was thought to be aggressive. In 2015, the FCC updated the broadband speed benchmark to 25Mbps/3 Mbps to reflect consumer demand and advances in technology.

One of the Nebraska State Broadband Plan goals is to increase broadband availability. The following 2020 benchmarks have been established: 

  • Broadband service of 25 Mbps down will be available to 80% of households.
  • Broadband service of 1gbps down will be available to 25% of households.

The National Broadband Map pulls together the data from across the United States to allow for comparisons. As of June 2014, Nebraska rankings on a few speeds and the percentage of the population with access to that speed are:

  • 12th download speed greater than 10 Mbps; 99.8% population having availability
  • 38th download speed greater than 25 Mbps; 79.3% population having availability
  • 32nd download speed greater than 100 Mbps; 62.7% population having availability
  • 10th download speed greater than 1 Gbps; 14.5% population having availability.

Reliable broadband is increasingly important to many businesses in Nebraska. The broadband business survey found that 83% percent of businesses indicated that broadband availability impacts their decision to remain in their current location. Nebraska has made significant strides in improving broadband availability over the last five years. If you are in a community or region that does not have adequate broadband, your community is at a disadvantage.

Partners in the Nebraska Broadband Initiative have developed a set of resources to help communities address broadband-related development. Leveraging Broadband in Your Community: A Workbook to Help Communities Stimulate Broadband Development provides an overview of broadband development and lays out a process for developing a community broadband plan. The interactive workbook includes video clips of Nebraskans talking about the importance of broadband in their businesses and communities. The workbook and additional resources can be found at the initiative's newly designed website at

Nebraska Broadband Initiative partners will be available to meet with communities and answer questions. If you are interested in learning more about the workbook or in working with members of the Nebraska Broadband Initiative, please contact Anne Byers ( or 402 471-3805), Charlotte Narjes ( or 402 472-1724) or Connie Hancock ( or 308-254-4455).

For more information on the Nebraska Broadband Initiative, visit

Broadband planning team members include Gene Hand and Cullen Robbins, Nebraska Public Service Commission; Anne Byers, Nebraska Information and Technology Commission; Allison Hatch, State of Nebraska Department of Economic Development; Charlotte Narjes and Becky Vogt, UNL Ag Economics; Connie Hancock, UNL Extension-Cheyenne County; Rod Armstrong, AIM.


Charlotte Narjes, (402) 472-1724
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Becky Vogt, (402) 329-6251
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Connie Hancock, (308) 254-4455
University of Nebraska-Lincoln