The Biden administration has expressed a commitment to improving and expanding broadband infrastructure across the United States as part of its infrastructure plan, with particular focus on reaching underserved areas and closing the “digital divide.”
The Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program allocates how much each state is getting to address deployment challenges.
The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced on Monday:
- More than $42 billion from the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law will be distributed to US states and territories for building internet access. North Carolina received $1,532,999,481.15.
The White House compared Monday’s announcement to the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, which delivered electricity to every home in America.
The “unprecedented investment in broadband is going to finally close the digital divide,” White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients said.
- Every state will have six months to submit initial proposals to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration that outlines what they will do with the funds, said senior administration officials. Once plans are approved, states will be able to access up to 20 percent of the allocated funds.
- The BEAD program is the largest of three programs funded under the $65 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and funds last mile infrastructure to connect to unserved and underserved communities.
- The IIJA defines “unserved” as homes that lack access to broadband at 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload. “Underserved” homes are defined as those that lack access to 100 Mbps down and 20 Mbps up.
- “Put simply, high-speed Internet is a necessity in today’s society,” said Mitch Landrieu, Senior Advisor to the President and White House Infrastructure Coordinator. “
- Just like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Act made a historic investment in rural areas bringing electricity to nearly every home in America, President Biden and Vice President Harris are committed to leaving no community behind as we connect everyone in America to high-speed Internet.”
The BEAD funding will be used to deploy or upgrade broadband networks to ensure that everyone has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed Internet service.
Once deployment goals are met, any remaining funding can be used to pursue eligible access-, adoption-, and equity-related uses.