Press Releases

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner and Sen. Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee, applauded $49,943,399.02 in federal funding to date from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The funding is committed for schools and libraries across the Commonwealth to help expand access to internet connectivity for learning, and close the Homework Gap for students who currently lack internet access. Earlier this year, Congress authorized the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The $49 million in funding has been issued in three waves since late September – with the latest wave being issued this week. 

“We’re proud to see these federal dollars go toward keeping Virginia’s communities connected. This investment will help close the digital divide, while improving access to job opportunities and educational resources for Virginians as we continue to recover from the impacts of COVID-19,” said the Senators.

A detailed breakdown of the funding can be found here.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have long been strong supporters of expanding broadband access in Virginia. In August, they voted to pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a comprehensive infrastructure package that delivers wins to communities across the Commonwealth, including at least $100 million to expand broadband across the Commonwealth. Under the bill, 1,908,000 or 23% of people in Virginia will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access. Last year, Warner and Kaine introduced the Emergency Educational Connections Act, legislation to help ensure adequate home internet connectivity for K-12 students during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) today applauded an announcement by the U.S. Treasury Department that Virginia is eligible to receive $219,812,354 from the American Rescue Plan to support broadband expansion in the Commonwealth. The funding is the result of a $10 billion investment Sen. Warner secured in the American Rescue Plan that will help states, territories and tribal governments carry out critical capital projects to enable telework, online education, and tele-health in connection with COVID-19. State governments will also be permitted to use funds to increase broadband efficiency and reduce the costs of providing broadband services.

“Broadband is to the 21st century what electrification was to the 20th. The COVID-19 crisis exposed that far too many Americans are being left behind without access to high-speed internet for work, school or telehealth. That’s why I fought to secure a record $10 billion in federal funding to expand broadband access and affordability as part of the American Rescue Plan,” said Sen. Warner. “Today the Treasury Department announced that Virginia will be eligible to receive at least $220 million of this funding in order to expand broadband to households across the Commonwealth.” 

More information from the Treasury announcement today is available here

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced $14,123,917 in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide broadband service to people in central Virginia through the ReConnect Program. The funding will be awarded to Central Virginia Services Inc. in Arrington, VA to install a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network that will connect 13,886 people, 4,139 households, 193 businesses, and 65 farms spread over 65 square miles in the surrounding area to high-speed broadband internet. The funding will also benefit 37 educational facilities, three health care facilities, and 14 essential community facilities.

“Broadband isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity, but many Virginians still don’t have reliable access to internet,” said the Senators. “That’s why we’re glad to see these federal dollars go toward connecting people across Virginia, which will improve access to job opportunities and educational resources and help small businesses grow.”

Senators Warner and Kaine have been strong supporters of expanding broadband access in Virginia. Earlier this week, they voted to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a comprehensive infrastructure package that delivers wins to communities across the Commonwealth, including at least $100 million to expand broadband across the Commonwealth. Under the bill, 1,908,000 or 23% of people in Virginia will be eligible for the Affordability Connectivity Benefit, which will help low-income families afford internet access and lower their bills. The legislation also provides over $44 billion in funding for broadband expansion across the nation, including an additional $2 billion to the ReConnect program and $42.45 billion in state grants. The legislation now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration. Last year, Warner and Kaine introduced legislation to help ensure adequate home internet connectivity for K-12 students during the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2018, both Warner and Kaine worked to secure funding to establish the ReConnect Program and other federal programs that are critical to improving broadband access across the Commonwealth. 

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ABINGDON— U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner and Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia plans to invest $700 million in American Rescue Plan funding to expedite the deployment of last-mile broadband infrastructure to unserved areas and close the digital divide within the next three years. This proposal will accelerate the Governor’s 10-year goal for achieving universal internet access from 2028 to 2024, with the majority of connections obligated within the next 18 months. In May, Governor Northam and General Assembly leaders released a joint statement outlining shared priorities for allocating the $4.3 billion in federal funds available to the Commonwealth from the American Rescue Plan.

The Governor made the announcement at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon and was joined by U.S. Senator Mark Warner, State Senator Janet Howell and Delegate Luke Torian, who chair the General Assembly’s money committees, and State Senator Jennifer Boysko and Delegate Roslyn Tyler, who lead Virginia’s Broadband Advisory Council. Governor Northam also reported that the Commonwealth has successfully bridged half of the digital divide, with an estimated 233,500 unserved locations remaining. 

“With telehealth and telework becoming permanent staples across the nation, access to broadband is more critical than ever,” said U.S. Senator Mark R. Warner. “Earlier this year, I was proud to help deliver more than $3.7 billion dollars in direct fiscal relief for the Commonwealth through the American Rescue Plan, including hundreds of millions of dollars for broadband. I’m hopeful that my friends in the General Assembly will use $700 million of that funding to expand access to broadband, thereby creating economic opportunity and ensuring that every Virginian can meaningfully participate in our 21st century economy.”

“It’s time to close the digital divide in our Commonwealth and treat internet service like the 21st century necessity that it is—not just a luxury for some, but an essential utility for all,” said Governor Northam. “The pandemic has reinforced how important high-quality broadband is for the health, education, and economic opportunity, and we cannot afford to leave any community behind. With this historic $700 million investment, universal broadband is now within our reach. I am grateful to Senator Warner for fighting to include this funding in the American Rescue Plan, which will be key to the success of local connectivity efforts and to ensuring every Virginian has affordable, reliable, and equitable access to high-speed internet.”

Since 2018, the Commonwealth has awarded approximately $124 million in broadband grants and connected over 140,000 homes, businesses, and community anchors. Governor Northam and the General Assembly made historic investments—$50 million in 2020 and an additional $50 million in 2021—in the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI), a public-private partnership that provides targeted financial assistance to extend broadband service to areas currently unserved by a provider. With this $700 million allocation of federal dollars and continued state investment, the Commonwealth has the necessary resources to meet the tremendous demand from localities and broadband providers and close the digital divide in Virginia.

“Localities and broadband providers have stepped up over the past three years and helped the Commonwealth connect thousands of unserved Virginians,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “With today’s announcement, large regional projects that achieve universal service can be funded across the Commonwealth without delay.” 

Because Governor Northam prioritized broadband expansion well before the pandemic, Virginia is on track to be one of the first states in the country to achieve universal broadband service. In 2019, the Governor worked with the General Assembly to establish a pilot program that promotes collaboration between localities, electric utilities, and internet service providers to connect unserved areas to high-speed internet. In just two years of the pilot program, Virginia’s utility companies have helped connect more than 13,000 homes and businesses across the Commonwealth. Earlier this year, Governor Northam signed bipartisan legislation that makes the pilot program permanent.

“The Commonwealth continues to prioritize funding for universal broadband access and I’m encouraged to see these investments coming ahead of schedule,” said Senator Janet Howell, Chair of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee. “This appropriation of federal dollars will go a long way towards supporting the investments that the Commonwealth has already made to bridge the digital divide.” 

“Funding for broadband is more critical now than ever,” said Delegate Luke Torian, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “We must continue to ensure that all citizens of the Commonwealth have access to quality internet access.”

“The Broadband Advisory Council has long prioritized funding to reduce the cost of broadband access and connect unserved Virginians,” said Senator Jennifer Boysko, Chair of the Broadband Advisory Council. “With this investment of American Rescue Plan dollars, we will greatly accelerate our progress.” 

“I have lived in a rural area my entire life and I know that the Commonwealth benefits as a whole when we lift up all communities,” said Delegate Roslyn Tyler, Vice Chair of the Broadband Advisory Council. “This investment will have a tremendous impact on countless Virginians and allow our communities to prosper and grow.”

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) praised new guidance by the Biden administration regarding the implementation of the $10 billion Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund (CCPF) that the senators successfully worked to include within the American Rescue Plan. This new guidance follows strong advocacy by the four senators, who previously urged the Treasury Department to ensure that CCPF funds can be used to support increased broadband adoption and access, in addition to supporting new broadband deployment. 

“As your guidance accurately reflects, this provision was drafted in recognition of and with the intent to address the urgent connectivity gaps and challenges that hamper too many Americans, undermining telework, online education, and telehealth efforts – and more recently, undermining vaccination efforts that depend upon access to the internet for public health announcements and registration activities,” wrote the Senators in a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. “Your guidance emphasizes the critical fact that effective utilization of capital investments associated with providing and improving broadband connectivity requires financial support for devices, digital inclusion and skills training, broadband affordability and related ancillary initiatives.”

They continued, “In the weeks and months since the American Rescue Plan was enacted, we have each heard from state and local leaders who have expressed great enthusiasm about the prospect of the Capital Projects Fund to enable broadband access for their constituents. While a larger effort to close the broadband gap is necessary – as the Biden Infrastructure Plan makes clear – we are confident that the Capital Projects Fund can address critical connectivity gaps that continue to prevent Americans from fully participating in telework, telehealth, and online education during the pandemic.”

Created through the American Rescue Plan, the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund (CCPF) seeks to address many challenges laid bare by the pandemic, especially in rural America and low- and moderate-income communities, helping to ensure that all communities have access to the high-quality, modern infrastructure needed to thrive, including internet access.

The guidance by the Department of the Treasury specifies that eligible projects include those that seek to expand access to broadband through connectivity infrastructure, devices, and equipment. The guidance states:

“Capital projects include investments in depreciable assets and the ancillary costs needed to put the capital assets in use. Under the American Rescue Plan, these projects must be critical in nature, providing connectivity for those who lack it. The Capital Projects Fund thus allows for investment in high-quality broadband as well as other connectivity infrastructure, devices, and equipment. In addition to supporting broadband, it also provides flexibility for each state, territory, and Tribal government to make other investments in critical community hubs or other capital assets that provide access jointly to work, education, and health monitoring. All projects must demonstrate that they meet the critical connectivity needs highlighted and amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible applicants will be required to provide a plan describing how they intend to use allocated funds under the Capital Projects Fund consistent with the American Rescue Plan and guidance to be issued by Treasury.”

A copy of the letter is available here and below. 

Dear Secretary Yellen, 

We write you to applaud the recent guidance released by the Treasury Department, announcing next steps to implement the Capital Projects Fund that we successfully included in the American Rescue Plan. As your guidance accurately reflects, this provision was drafted in recognition of and with the intent to address the urgent connectivity gaps and challenges that hamper too many Americans, undermining telework, online education, and telehealth efforts – and more recently, undermining vaccination efforts that depend upon access to the internet for public health announcements and registration activities. Your guidance emphasizes the critical fact that effective utilization of capital investments associated with providing and improving broadband connectivity requires financial support for devices, digital inclusion and skills training, broadband affordability and related ancillary initiatives. 

In the weeks and months since the American Rescue Plan was enacted, we have each heard from state and local leaders who have expressed great enthusiasm about the prospect of the Capital Projects Fund to enable broadband access for their constituents. While a larger effort to close the broadband gap is necessary – as the Biden Infrastructure Plan makes clear – we are confident that the Capital Projects Fund can address critical connectivity gaps that continue to prevent Americans from fully participating in telework, telehealth, and online education during the pandemic.  We believe that the Capital Projects Fund can serve as a bridge towards this larger initiative, particularly in the wake of successful state-led broadband projects deployed in the last year using CARES Act funding and the flexibility to use the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for broadband. These efforts will need coordination to ensure the best use of funds, but we feel strongly that the Capital Projects Fund will enable states, territories, and Tribes to build on these early efforts. 

We look forward to the Treasury Department’s future guidance on how states, territories and Tribes may access these critical funds for connectivity investments and the implementation of the Capital Projects Fund. Thank you for your leadership and attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding an $800,000 CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant to the Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corporation, South Boston, Virginia, to increase broadband capacity in southern and central Virginia and bolster the region’s ability to withstand future economic disruptions. This EDA grant will be matched with $200,000 in local investment.

“The Mid-Atlantic Broadband Cooperative has been the Commonwealth’s core pillar for broadband expansion since its creation during my time as Governor,” said Senator Mark Warner. “With the COVID-19 crisis underscoring the importance of broadband for telework, telehealth, and remote learning, the cooperative’s work is more important than ever to bridge the digital divide. I’m pleased to announce this critical federal funding that will assist with expanding infrastructure to get more families connected to broadband.”

“The Economic Development Administration is committed to helping communities across the nation implement strategies to mitigate economic hardships brought on by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Dennis Alvord, Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development“This EDA investment will allow for greater business growth and economic development in the region by supporting the engineering and design of a new 206-mile route of fiber infrastructure that will span 14 counties.”

“Access to reliable high-speed internet continues to be one of the key issues facing rural communities across our Commonwealth and country,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “Working with our federal partners to enhance and expand broadband service is one of my highest priorities, and this funding will go a long way in connecting unserved homes and businesses in southern and central regions of our Commonwealth so they can compete and thrive in our digital world.”  

“This EDA funding will help better connect people across the Commonwealth, as many Virginians still do not have reliable access to broadband internet amid the pandemic,” said Senator Tim Kaine. “This investment is an important step in expanding access to broadband in rural areas across the state while also providing opportunities for economic development for years to come.”   

The EDA investment will address rural Virginia’s economic need for consistent broadband service by enabling the expansion of an existing fiber-optic infrastructure network to alleviate the lack of reliable broadband access while strengthening the region's overall economic competitiveness. Additionally, the new infrastructure will provide fiber connections not only to healthcare facilities, medical research centers, and existing businesses but also to industrial and technology parks representing more than 4,500 acres available for commercial development. 

This project is funded under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (Public Law 116-136), which provided EDA with $1.5 billion for economic assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus. EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance, which is being administered under the authority of the bureau’s flexible Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) program, provides a wide range of financial assistance to eligible communities and regions as they respond to and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) mission is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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WASHINGTON –  U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) joined his Senate colleagues in introducing the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act and the Hotspots and Online Technology and Services Procurement for our Tribes and States (HOTSPOTS) Act – two pieces of legislation to increase access to broadband internet in Virginia and across the nation.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that broadband is a necessity – not a luxury. For too many Americans, lack of access to affordable high-speed internet is the barrier to being able to connect with health care providers online, participate in distance learning, or work safely from home,” said Sen. Warner. “In the Commonwealth alone, more than 700,000 Virginians lack access to broadband. That’s why I’m proud to introduce these two bills to invest in broadband infrastructure and make it easier for states, tribes, and territories to quickly expand internet connectivity in rural and underserved communities.” 

Along with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Warner introduced the bicameral Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act – a bill that would put $94 billion towards building high-speed broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities. This legislation would encourage universal broadband access, ensure internet affordability and promote internet adoption in communities.

Specifically, it would:

  • Authorize $80 billion to deploy high-speed broadband infrastructure nationwide;
  • Allocate $5 billion over five years for low-interest financing of broadband deployment through a new secured loan program;
  • Authorize $6 billion for the recently established Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund, which provides a $50 monthly discount on the internet plans for low-income Americans anywhere in the country, or $75 for consumers on tribal lands; 
  • Provide over $1 billion to establish grant programs for states to close gaps in broadband adoption, as well as digital inclusion projects for organizations and local communities to implement;
  • Include $2 billion to enable students without internet at home to participate in remote learning;
  • Authorize funding for Wi-Fi on school buses so students can stay connected, especially in rural areas where longer bus rides are common;
  • Require an affordable option for internet service plans offered on the newly-built infrastructure funded by the legislation;
  • Establish a new office within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to ensure efficient use of federal money;
  • Direct the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to collect and publicize data on prices charged for broadband service throughout the country;

Along with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Warner introduced the bipartisan Hotspots and Online Technology and Services Procurement for our Tribes and States (HOTSPOTS) Act – legislation that would help libraries across rural America provide broadband hotspots to their communities and ensure Americans have access to the reliable broadband they need to work and learn from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This legislation would create a 2-year, $200 million hotspot pilot program with a minimum allotment of $2 million per state to allow states, tribes, and territories to purchase and distribute Internet-connected devices to libraries in low-income and rural areas. 

Under this legislation, hotspots and other devices would be treated no differently than other items in a library’s inventory, allowing users to check them out and libraries to track who has the devices and for how long, maintaining accountability and good governance while bringing connectivity to homes that otherwise would be lacking.

Bill text is available here. A summary is available here.

As a former governor and now in the Senate, Sen. Warner has long fought for increased access to broadband in the Commonwealth. In the American Rescue Plan that was recently signed into law, Sen. Warner successfully secured a record $17 billion in funding to increase affordability and access to broadband. In December, Sen. Warner negotiated and passed COVID-19 relief legislation that included $7 billion towards broadband, including $3.2 billion for an Emergency Broadband Benefit to help low-income families maintain their internet connections, $285 million to support broadband access in minority communities, and $300 million in broadband grants modeled on bipartisan provisions Sen. Warner drafted with his colleagues.

Sen. Warner has also previously introduced bipartisan legislation with Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott (R-SC) to establish a $10 billion Broadband Development Fund to prioritize funding for areas that currently lack service, support the deployment of advanced technologies in areas where there is the greatest need, and encourage projects that can quickly provide internet service.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), about 21 million Americans do not have access to 25/3 mbps internet – the FCC’s standard for high speed broadband. Of that 21 million, 16 million live in rural areas, while 5 million live in urban areas. 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement today after President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law: 

“By signing the American Rescue Plan into law, President Biden has taken an enormous step in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic and setting our nation on a clear path forward to rebuild from this crisis. Soon, this bold legislation will start delivering urgent relief for Virginians and funding for the Commonwealth’s top priorities.

“The American Rescue Plan will help our nation heal by getting vaccines into arms, expanding COVID-19 testing and tracing, and providing schools with the resources they need to reopen safely. It will also tackle the vast economic challenges related to COVID-19 by putting checks in Americans’ hands, helping small businesses keep their doors open, increasing nutrition benefits for families, assisting struggling renters and homeowners, cutting the child poverty rate in half, and providing funding for state, local, and tribal governments facing drastic budget shortfalls. This bill also includes a record $17 billion in funding to increase affordability and access to broadband – a priority I was proud to secure for the 700,000 Virginians who are still unable to access high-speed internet a year into a pandemic that has further pushed our world online.

“Like any ambitious piece of legislation, the American Rescue Plan is not perfect. I will be the first to acknowledge that the price tag is a significant one. However, this moment is too pivotal to risk doing too little and the future of our country is well worth the investment. I look forward to working to ensure that funding is distributed appropriately, programs are implemented quickly, and Virginians get the help they deserve.”

Through the American Rescue Plan, the Commonwealth of Virginia will receive, among other funding, more than $6,875,000,000 in state and local government funding; $451,000,000 in emergency rental assistance; $2,999,000,000 in education funding; $1,348,000,000 in rural transit funding; and $1,517,221,000 in urban transit funding. Additionally, more than 3,611,000 households in Virginia will benefit from individual stimulus checks. 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement after voting for the American Rescue Plan, legislation to provide emergency relief to the American people and defeat the COVID-19 pandemic: 

“This legislation will help our country defeat COVID-19 and get back to normal. It includes desperately needed resources to get vaccines into arms; help schools reopen safely; and provide much-needed lifelines to the communities hardest-hit by this virus. 

“I will be the first to acknowledge that this bill is not perfect. I am glad that as the Senate considered this legislation, we made some important changes to target aid where it is most badly needed as millions of Americans remain out of work, state and local governments continue to lay off workers, and small businesses struggle to keep their doors open.

“I’m especially proud that I was able to work with President Biden and my colleagues to add funding to expand access to high-speed internet, which is a necessity, not a luxury, during COVID-19. The $17 billion we secured to help expand broadband infrastructure and affordability represents the largest-ever federal investment of its kind and will be a significant boost to our economy as we work to rebuild and recover from COVID-19.”

According to current estimates, there are approximately 700,000 Virginians who still lack access to high-speed internet, which has become increasingly essential for telecommuting, distance learning, telemedicine, and more amid the COVID-19 crisis. As a former governor and now in the Senate, Sen. Warner has long fought for increased access to broadband in the Commonwealth. In December, Sen. Warner negotiated and passed COVID-19 relief legislation that included $7 billion towards broadband, including $3.2 billion for an Emergency Broadband Benefit to help low-income families maintain their internet connections, $285 million to support broadband access in minority communities, and $300 million in broadband grants modeled on bipartisan provisions Sen. Warner drafted with his colleagues. Sen. Warner has also introduced comprehensive broadband infrastructure legislation to expand access to affordable high-speed internet by investing $100 billion to build high-speed broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities, and has also introduced bipartisan legislation with Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott (R-SC) to establish a $10 billion Broadband Development Fund to prioritize funding for areas that currently lack service, support the deployment of advanced technologies in areas where there is the greatest need, and encourage projects that can quickly provide internet service.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), about 21 million Americans do not have access to 25/3 mbps internet, which is the FCC’s standard for high speed broadband. Of that 21 million, 16 million live in rural areas, while 5 million live in urban areas.

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