Upcoming Deadline to Apply for Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program
In today’s digital environment, broadband connectivity serves as the backbone for all kinds of emerging industries and a new post-pandemic way of life, such as online school and hybrid working. But as a vast nation fractured by disparate economic drivers and differing social norms, leveling the playing field online to ensure everyone has a fair chance and advancement is not easily achieved at the level local. It takes money, vision and collaboration between jurisdictions.
That’s why several federal initiatives related to recently passed historic spending programs, namely the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the US bailout in particular, are good news for voters, whether they come from urban centers or rural areas.
One, in particular, the federal government’s $42.45 billion allocation subsidizing connectivity through the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, deserves attention this week because its date Application deadline is fast approaching. All states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and other territories have so far signed.
The deadline for communities to submit funding requests is Monday, July 18.
The broadband program was launched when Pres. Joe Biden signed into law the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure legislation last November. A few other initiatives to address broadband shortcomings, including a permanent program to benefit low-income households, were also included in the bill. The Equity, Access and Broadband Deployment Program is the largest, however, and focuses on rolling out broadband to underserved areas. The law project “prioritizes unserved locations that do not have internet access or only have access at less than 25/3 Mbps and underserved locations only have access at less than 100/20 Mbps according to an explainer of Internet for All, a federal initiative.
“America runs on high-speed Internet. A strong internet connection fuels our economy and supports education. It promotes better public health. And, it connects loved ones and strengthens social bonds,” reads the fact sheet. “But not everyone is online. Too many Americans are cut off from the opportunities offered by high-speed Internet. That’s why we’re working to bring high-speed Internet to all Americans. »
To this end, eligible uses of the grant by selected cities and counties include planning, carrying out research, data collection, awareness and training, deployment or upgrading of broadband infrastructure in underserved areas, installation of Internet and Wi-Fi in multi-unit residential buildings, adoption and digital equity programs, and workforce development and skills training.
After Monday’s deadline, selected communities must submit a five-year plan for the grant next year. The plans will begin to be implemented after a few more steps in 2024. More information can be found on the National Telecommunications and Information Administration website.