Biden to announce how billions of dollars for broadband internet expansion are distributed

President Joe Biden is expected to announce his administration’s plans on Monday to distribute billions of dollars appropriated by Congress to bring the internet to every home and small business in the United States.

Comparing the push for universal connectivity to the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, when the federal government installed the power lines that lit the countryside across the United States, White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients, said that high-speed Internet access is as essential to everyday life as electricity.

“We all know how hard life is when the power goes out after a storm or for other reasons,” Zients said in a Friday call with reporters to preview the announcement. “For millions of Americans in rural communities especially, the internet is down. Sometimes there isn’t even access.

The amount each state, territory and Washington, D.C. will receive from the $42.5 billion program depends primarily on the number of unserved locations in each jurisdiction or locations that do not have access to internet speeds of at minus 25 megabits per second download and 3 Mbps upload. . Download speeds involve retrieving information from the Internet, including streaming movies and TV. Download speeds determine how quickly information is transmitted from a computer to the Internet, such as sending emails or posting photos online.

More than 7% of the country falls into the underserved category, according to maps recently completed by the Federal Communications Commission to set the course for the massive enterprise.

Congress approved the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment, or BEAD, program, along with several other internet expansion initiatives, through the infrastructure bill the Democratic president signed into law in 2021.

Earlier this month, the Commerce Department announced the winners of the midstream grants, which will fund projects that build the middle part of the infrastructure needed to extend Internet access to every corner of the country.

States will have until the end of the year to submit initial proposals outlining how they plan to use the money, which will not begin to be distributed until those plans are approved. Once the Commerce Department approves those plans, states can begin providing grants to telecommunications companies, power cooperatives and other broadband providers to build infrastructure that connects homes and small businesses. to internet.

According to the rules of the program, states must prioritize connecting primarily unserved areas before boosting service in underserved areas, or those without access to 100Mbps/20Mbps Internet speeds, and service institutions. community anchorage, such as schools and libraries.

Articulating the distribution of the country’s largest ever federal investment on FCC data has been somewhat contentious. Members of Congress pressed FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel over inaccuracies they said would negatively impact rural state allocations in particular, and state broadband officials were concerned about the short timeline for correct discrepancies in the first version of the map.

The second version of the map, which was released in late May and used for housing estates, reflects the net addition of one million locations, updated data from internet service providers and results from over 3 million of public challenges, Rosenworcel, who in the past has criticized the way FCC cards were developed, said in a May statement.


Harjai, who reported from Los Angeles, is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative body. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.

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