Senate finishing crafting $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal, including $65 billion for broadband

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Senate Democrats and Republicans unveiled a roughly $1 trillion proposal to improve the country’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections, setting in motion a long-awaited debate in the chamber to enact one of President Biden’s economic policy priorities. The roughly 2,700-page piece of legislation, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, includes $65 billion to expand broadband Internet access nationwide and ensure those who do have connectivity can afford their monthly payments. Casey Lide of Keller & Heckman offers greater detail:

  • “Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program” ($42 billion): The centerpiece of the overall broadband investment, this massive program contemplates grants being made to States.  Significant local coordination would be required.  States would use grant funds to competitively award subgrants for qualifying broadband infrastructure, mapping, and adoption projects. It would be administered by NTIA.
  • “Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure” ($1 billion): Directs NTIA to make available grants for “construction, improvement or acquisition of middle mile infrastructure.”
  • “Digital Equity Act of 2021” ($1.3 billion): Funds State-level digital equity planning and establishes a competitive digital equity grant program available to a wide range of public-sector and not-for-profit entities.
  • “Broadband Affordability”: The bill includes several initiatives relating to affordable broadband:
    • Extension and modification of the existing Emergency Broadband Benefit program(including renaming it as the “Affordable Connectivity Program”);
    • Adoption of a “consumer broadband label” requirement, originally put forth by the FCC in 2016;
    • Digital discrimination. The bill would require the FCC to adopt rules within two years to address digital discrimination (i.e., redlining).

Senate finishing crafting $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal, setting delicate debate in motion An Overview of Broadband Provisions in the Infrastructure Bill (as of July 30, 2021) Here’s what the U.S. infrastructure bill has in store for broadband (Fierce) $1 Trillion Infrastructure Bill Pours Money Into Long-Delayed Needs (NYTimes) Broadband in the infrastructure bill: Taking aim at the digital divide. (NY Times)