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American Rescue Plan BEAD Program Digital Equity Act (DEA) Grant Money Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) USDA - Rural Utilities Service

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law. What happens next?

IIJA is an investment of $65 billion to help close the digital divide and ensure that all Americans have access to reliable, high speed, and affordable broadband.

The IIJA build upon:

  • American Rescue Plan (ARP)
  • Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021
  • FCC’s Universal Service program
  • USDA’s Rural Utilities Service broadband programs

Historic Investment

This historic investment will:

  • Lay critical groundwork for widespread access and affordability of broadband
  • Create new jobs and economic opportunities
  • Provide increased access to healthcare services
  • Enrich educational experiences of students
  • Improve overall quality of life for all Americans

NTIA Program Implementation

The National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) will implement the following programs:

BEAD Program

The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program appropriates $42.45 billion for states to utilize for broadband deployment, mapping, and adoption projects.

  • Each state will receive an initial allocation of $100 million — and $100 million will be divided equally to support planning efforts including building capacity in state broadband offices and outreach and coordination with local communities.
  • States leveraging initial planning funds that will be made available through the program, will
    • Submit a 5-year action plan, which shall be informed by collaboration with local and regional entities
    • Remaining funding will be distributed based on a formula that considers
      • Number of unserved and high-cost locations in the state
      • Based on the maps to be published by the FCC in 2022
      • Priority for funding is for providing broadband to
      • Unserved areas (those below 25/3 Mbps)
      • Underserved areas (those below 100/20 Mbps)
      • Community anchor institutions (1/1 Gbps)

Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program

The middle mile program establishes and funds a $1 billion program for the construction, improvement or acquisition of middle mile infrastructure.

The purpose is to expand and extend middle mile infrastructure to reduce the cost of connecting unserved and underserved areas to the internet backbone.

Eligible applicants include States, political subdivisions of a State, tribal governments, technology companies, electric utilities, utility cooperatives, public utility districts, telecommunications companies, telecommunications cooperatives, nonprofit foundations, nonprofit corporations, nonprofit institutions, nonprofit associations, regional planning councils, Native entities, or economic development authorities.

Digital Equity Act Programs

The DEA Program dedicates $2.75 billion to establish three grant programs that promote digital inclusion and equity to ensure that all individuals and communities have the skills, technology, and capacity needed to reap the full benefits of our digital economy.

Grant Programs

  1. State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program: $60 million formula grant program for states and territories to develop digital equity plans.
  2. State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program: $1.44 billion formula grant program for states and territories distributed via annual grant programs over 5 years to implement digital equity projects and support the implementation of digital equity plans.
  3. Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program: $1.25 billion discretionary grant program distributed vial annual grant programs over 5 years to implement digital equity projects. Eligible applicants include specific types of political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality of a state; tribal governments; nonprofit entities; community anchor institutions; local educational agencies; and entities that carry out workforce development programs.

The goal of the above programs is to promote the meaningful adoption and use of broadband services across the targeted populations in the Act, including

  • Low-income households
  • Aging populations
  • Incarcerated individuals
  • Veterans
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Individuals with a language barrier
  • Racial and ethnic minorities
  • Rural inhabitants

In late April of 2022, the WNC Broadband Project leadership team in conjunction with Land-0f-Sky, Dogwood Health Trust, and UNC Asheville will hold their annual summit to further have dialogue on these topics. The virtual sign-up will be shared when it becomes finalized.

“Grants Overview | BroadbandUSA.” 2021. 2021.

“Grants | National Telecommunications and Information Administration.” 2021. 2021.