More state broadband internet access plans approved

July 11, 2024

The “Internet for All” initiative continues to make significant strides, with several more states and territories receiving approvals for their Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program proposals, bringing the total approvals to 16 out of 56.

Overseen by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the BEAD program is designed to provide broadband internet access to underserved communities, particularly in rural areas. In the past two months, NTIA has greenlit final proposals from 10 states along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, marking substantial progress on the program aimed at closing what’s been called the ‘digital divide,’ and allowing those states and territories to unlock substantial funding.

“In today’s digitally dependent world, broadband connectivity can be a lifeline for residents and better connect communities to the wider world of commerce and communication,” Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a press release after Indiana became the latest state to receive final approval. “The BEAD, in conjunction with our state and local programming, will continue toprovide those needed connections to our still underserved areas.”

Authorized through passage of the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the $42.45 billion grant program involves a multi-step application process. Initially, states and territories submit letters of intent and receive planning funds. They then develop and submit Initial Proposals detailing their plans for using BEAD allocations. After NTIA approval of these Initial Proposals, states have one year to submit a Final Proposal, which must include details on the subgrantee selection process and plans for achieving universal coverage.

The latest round of approvals includes:

  • Colorado: $826 million
  • Delaware: $107 million
  • District of Columbia: $100 million
  • Illinois: $1 billion
  • Indiana: $868 million
  • Kentucky: $1 billion
  • Maine: $271 million
  • New Hampshire: $196 million
  • Oregon: $688 million
  • Pennsylvania: $1.1 billion
  • Puerto Rico: $334 million
  • Washington state: $1.2 billion

These approvals — joining Kansas, Louisiana, Nevada, and West Virginia — allow the states, Puerto Rico and D.C. to request access to their allocated funds and begin implementing their BEAD programs, bringing them closer to the goal of universal high-speed internet access.

State leaders have expressed enthusiasm for the program’s potential impact.

“Delaware plans to be the first state in the country to have every home and business connected to high-speed Internet, and this approval is one of the last steps before we can actually start the work,” Delaware Gov. John Carney said.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser highlighted the importance of the internet for providing opportunities, saying in a press release, “by ensuring District residents, businesses, and institutions have access to affordable, high-speed Internet – and supporting them with trainings on digital literacy and workforce development – we can give more people in the District a fair shot.”

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

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