The US Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration has begun awarding its historic $3 billion in American Rescue Plan funds to assist communities nationwide in their efforts to build back better by accelerating the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and building local economies that will be resilient to future economic shocks. EDA awarded $24 million in grants to states and territories across the nation for statewide planning efforts to boost economic development, enhance US competitiveness, combat the climate crisis, and recover from the pandemic. EDA will fun
USDA to Make Up to $1.15 Billion Available to Help People Living in Rural Communities Access High-Speed Internet
On November 24 the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will begin accepting applications for up to $1.15 billion in loans and grants to expand the availability of broadband in rural areas.
The Department of the Treasury released guidance for the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund program established by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The program allocates $10 billion for eligible governments to carry out critical capital projects that directly enable work, education, and health monitoring, including remote options, in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Universal Service Fund (USF or Fund) has been one of the nation’s most important tools for connecting our nation, including rural communities, low-income families, schools, libraries, and rural health care facilities. However, the funding mechanism that supports the Fund is under significant duress. The “contribution base” – the revenues used to calculate USF contributions – has declined 63% in the last two decades, from $79.9 billion in 2001 to $29.6 billion in 2021.
NTIA’s Broadband Infrastructure Program Receives Over 230 Applications, More Than $2.5 Billion in Funding Requests
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has received more than 230 applications for the Broadband Infrastructure Program, for a total of more than $2.5 billion in funding requests across 49 states and US territories. NTIA has begun reviewing the applications as part of the $288 million grant program, which was funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. Grants will be awarded to covered partnerships between a state, or political subdivisions of a state, and providers of fixed broadband service.
The Senate gave overwhelming bipartisan approval to the $1 trillion infrastructure bill to rebuild the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges and fund new climate resilience and broadband initiatives, delivering a key component of President Biden’s agenda. The legislation would be the largest infusion of federal investment into infrastructure projects in more than a decade, touching nearly every facet of the American economy and fortifying the nation’s response to the warming of the planet. The bill allocates $65 billion for broadband infrastructure in these areas:
Senate finishing crafting $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal, including $65 billion for broadband
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.
This is a historic time for broadband investment. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the high costs of being offline. In response, Congress, over the past year, passed two laws—the Consolidated Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan—with an unprecedented amount of funding devoted to promoting digital equity. Communities should be engaged now to help craft long-term connectivity goals and ensure that diverse voices are part of the discussion—and that’s our job.
President Joe Biden and the bipartisan group of lawmakers announced agreement on the details of a once-in-a-generation investment in US infrastructure, which will be taken up in the Senate for consideration. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes a total $550 billion in new federal infrastructure investment.
One might think this is the moment for community broadband networks. The truth is, locally-directed networks have been serving their communities for a long, long time. In discussing his administration’s plans for broadband, President Joe Biden noted that municipal and cooperative networks should be favored because these providers face less pressure to turn profits and are more committed to serving entire communities.