Break down broadband funding in the infrastructure bill

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Broadband deployment and adoption will receive a historic boost of $ 65 billion once President Joe Biden signs the infrastructure bill passed by the US House of Representatives on Friday.

While experts doubt the money will solve all of the broadband problems in the United States, a number of funding opportunities await states and local areas with connectivity projects.

Below is the breakdown of the $ 65 billion into four broad categories: Deployment, Emergency Benefits, Adoption, and Miscellaneous.

DEPLOYMENT

About $ 42 billion will go to the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, which will be managed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). This program will provide competitive grants to states for:

  • Deployment of broadband in unserved and underserved communities.
  • Connectivity in anchor institutions.
  • Data, maps and broadband plans.
  • Low cost Internet or Wi-Fi or broadband infrastructure for multi-family residential buildings.
  • Broadband adoption.
  • Other items deemed necessary by the NTIA.

With these grants, states can only use up to 5% of funds for planning or pre-deployment items and only up to 2% for administration. Any sub-recipient – which can be anything from a private supplier to an electricity cooperative to a utility – must match 25 percent of the funding. Grants will be prioritized in the following order: unserved areas, underserved areas, and anchor institutions.

The proposals will likely be due in 2022 once the Federal Communications Commission finishes updating its broadband cards. The networks offered must offer a minimum download speed of 100 Mbps and a minimum download speed of 20 Mbps. A low-cost broadband option must also be developed for eligible families, so each state must define “low cost”.

More detailed details can be found here.

EMERGENCY SERVICES

During the pandemic, a broadband grant called the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program was created. The Infrastructure Bill allocates $ 14.2 billion to expand and expand this program. Be careful, however: the program will now only offer a monthly subsidy of $ 30 to eligible households instead of $ 50, the initial amount.

More details on this existing program can be found here.

ADOPTION

As part of a commitment to make high-speed internet accessible to all citizens, the bill commits $ 2.75 billion to digital inclusion efforts.

Specifically, $ 1.5 billion will go to the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program. That money will be split into two pots: $ 60 million for states to create digital equity plans and $ 1.44 billion to help implement such plans. Regarding the latter amount, this money is supposed to complement state and local dollars.

Another $ 1.25 billion will fund the Digital Equity Competitive Grants Program. This money will not go to digital equity programs as defined by the state’s digital equity grant program mentioned above. The funds are to be spent on items such as digital inclusion activities, computer training, public computing devices and centers in anchor institutions.

More detailed details can be found here.

VARIOUS

According to Ars Technica, $ 2 billion will go to Rural Utilities Service grants offered by the US Department of Agriculture; $ 2 billion will fund Tribal Broadband Connectivity program grants; $ 1 billion will be available for medium-distance projects; and $ 600 million will support broadband private equity bonds.


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