The Biden administration is taking the first steps to releasing $45 billion to ensure that every resident has the access to high-speed internet by the end of the decade.
Governors and other leaders were invited to start applications on Friday.
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“[There are] more than 30 million Americans who don’t have internet,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who is overseeing the distribution under the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), said. “And, in this day and age without high-speed internet, you can’t go to school, can’t go to the doctor, can’t do simple things. Think of how many times in a day you Google something or go online.”
The funding is part of the $65 billion for broadband in the $1 trillion infrastructure package that President Biden signed into law last November.
The department’s broadband money comes from three programs: the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program; the $1 billion Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program; and State Digital Equity Act programs that add up to $1.5 billion.
To participate in the $45 billion “Internet for All” initiative, governors and other eligible entities must submit a letter of intent and a planning funds budget, which will unlock $5 million in planning funds.
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Each participating state is guaranteed a minimum $100 million allocation, with additional funding determinations made based on the forthcoming coverage maps from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
According to rough estimates from the Commerce Department, the average payment would be closer to $800 million.
The department said the programs would build internet infrastructure, teach digital skills and provide necessary technology to Americans.
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“You know, the need for high-speed Internet is — is a little bit like what used to be probably what my grandfather talked about: needing to have a telephone. It’s pretty consequential. And, it’s only going to keep growing, this need. High-speed Internet is not a luxury any longer, it’s a necessity,” Biden told reporters last week.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.