The Biden administration has earmarked $42.45 billion to provide high-speed broadband internet access across all fifty US states by 2030, plugging the gap in America's rural and underserved areas.
The White House announced the new initiative Monday as part of the president’s latest economic policy initiative to woo the American public and pump up his dismal approval ratings.
The $42 billion grant will be divided among all fifty states and US territories based on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) updated national broadband access map, released May 30th.
The FCC estimates 8.3 million US homes and businesses currently lack access to high-speed broadband – an increase of roughly 330,000 locations since the initial data was compiled last November.
"It's the biggest investment in high-speed internet ever," President Joe Biden said during a speech at the White House Monday.
"Because for today's economy to work for everyone, internet access is just as important as electricity, or water, or other basic services," Biden said.
The over $42 billion grant falls under the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program, part of a $1 trillion infrastructure law passed by Congress back in 2021.
Under the program, each state will receive a minimum of $107 million in funding, the administration says.
In its entirety, awards will range anywhere from as little as $27 million for US territories like the Virgin Islands, to over $3 billion for more populous states like Texas.
California is also expected to receive a larger portion of the funding, at around $1.9 billion.
Less populated states with large rural areas and less connectivity, such as Virginia, Alabama, and Louisiana, also made it to the FCC’s top ten list.
The US Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is expected to announce exactly how the money will be divided among the states and territories by June 30th.
To unlock the first round of funding at 20%, each state will have to submit its initial expansion plans by the end of the year.
The rest of the funding will be released once the plans are finalized – which feds say could easily take until 2025.
Major US broadband companies, such as Verizon, Comcast, Charter Communications, and AT&T, have held back on expanding access to rural communities, mainly because the investment costs outweigh the number of subscribers in those regions.
The issue of broadband access came into sharp focus during the COVID-19 pandemic as students and teachers were forced to use online education platforms, and employees were required to work from home.
As part of Biden’s 2021 infrastructure law, Congress also pledged another $14.2 billion for low-income families to receive a $30 per month voucher to help pay for any internet service plan they choose.
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