The US Treasury Department has begun accepting broadband expansion grants to states from a $10 billion fund created to expand access to Internet service and other digital connectivity tools.
Department of Treasury declaration on Tuesday said the first projects approved will “connect more than 200,000 homes and businesses to affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet” in Louisiana, New Hampshire, Virginia, and West Virginia. The funded networks will provide manual service with download and upload speeds of at least 100Mbps, the department said.
The four states are receiving a total of $583 million from the $10 billion Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund (CPF), which Congress passed in March 2021 as part of the American Recovery Plan Act. “Treasury designed its guidance to prioritize the connection of families and businesses with poor and irregular work-especially those in rural and remote areas. The Treasury also requires states to explain why the areas they have knows to serve with money from CPF in special need for those who need special projects,” the department said.
The expenses are not just for broadband, as the law said that $10 billion will be used “for making payments to States, territories, and tribal governments to carry out important projects that improve employment, education, and health monitoring, including remote options, in response to the public health (COVID-19). emergency.” In addition to the microphone, grant recipients can “make investments in other capital projects designed to directly facilitate, education, and health monitoring and that meet other Treasury requirements ,” the department said that.
More money on the way
The Treasury Department also has it approved more than 30 capital projects for the ethnic community, with many of them slated to expand the broadband network, buy computers and electronic devices, or provide internet access to the public in community facilities. Treasury said it will continue to approve state and tribal projects on a rolling basis.
The Capital Projects Fund is separate from the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program approved in November 2021, which will provide grants to ISPs that build in underserved and underserved areas. That big fund hasn’t awarded any money yet, but the National Communications and Information Administration (NTIA) declare the law for the program on May 13.
While the Biden administration is getting broadcast funding to states, plans to restore broadcast regulations repealed during the Trump era are on hold because Biden has not gotten his Federal Communications Commission nominee, Gigi Sohn, past the deadline. in the Senate. Like Axios reported week, “Democrats do not currently have the votes after almost eight months of drama around his choice.”
An affordable Internet option is required
Plans submitted by Louisiana, New Hampshire, Virginia, and West Virginia require ISPs that receive activation fees to participate in Affordability Affiliate Program run by the FCC. “ACP helps ensure that families can have the broadband power they need for work, school, health care, and more by offering discounts of up to $30 per month,” the Treasury Department said. Biden recently announced voluntary agreements from major ISPs to offer $30-per-month plans to eligible families, effectively making the service free when combined with the discount.
“These four states have wisely chosen to prioritize local, affordable, and future-proof networks,” tell Joshua Stager, deputy director of broadband and competition policy at New America’s Open Technology Institute.
All states will eventually receive money from the fund. The March 2021 law states that the Treasury Department must give at least $100 million to each state, with the remaining payments divided among states based on total population, rural population, and family income levels. States must submit their plans by September 24, 2022. The Capital Projects Fund is on a “significantly faster timeline than other broadband infrastructure funds, according to the new NTIA program—so officials need to do it soon,” Stager said.
The Capital Projects Fund has $100 million earmarked for tribal governments. There is also $100 million to be shared between the US Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and Palau.