The “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act” totals nearly $1 trillion, with $65 billion set aside for broadband and historic levels of support for digital inclusion. The Senate began debating the bill over the weekend and may vote on it as early as the end of this week.
NDIA applauds the bipartisan working group of senators for designing a holistic bill that addresses both digital inclusion and broadband availability, and we look forward to seeing the bill passed and made into law.
Below is a breakdown of the funding allocations relevant to those of us in the digital inclusion world:
- Digital Equity Act: $2.75 billion (over 5 years)
- $60 million for state planning grants
- $1.44 billion for state implementation grants
- $1.25 billion ($250 million a year for 5 years) for competitive grant program
- Broadband Grants for States, DC, Puerto Rico & Territories: $42.5 billion
- This is a new grant program the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will manage. The deployment funds will be issued as block grants to states with rules defined by the NTIA.
- In addition to deployment, states can use funds from these grants for digital equity uses, including:
- To deploy affordable networks in low-income, multi-family buildings
- To promote broadband adoption
- Deployment grant recipients (ISPs) must offer a ‘low-cost’ or affordable plan for consumers.
- Broadband Benefit: $14.2 billion
- Extends and amends the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, including changing the name to the “Affordable Connectivity Program,” paving the way for a permanent program
- All internet service plans are required to be eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program
- The program benefit is reduced to $30/month
- Eligibility for the program is increased from 135% of poverty line to 200% of the poverty line
- Tribal Connectivity Program: $2 billion
- Extends the Tribal Connectivity Program created by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA)
- Middle Mile Connectivity: $1 billion
- Creates a grant program at NTIA for expanding middle mile access, which will help connect unserved anchor institutions and make last-mile buildout to unserved households easier and cheaper
- Digital Discrimination
- The bill text outlines “digital discrimination” (a softened definition of digital redlining) and charges the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with creating rules to enforce
The NDIA Community should all stand proud knowing our community influenced the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. As just one example, the text uses NDIA definitions for “digital equity” and “digital inclusion,” definitions that were created by the NDIA Community.