After months of talks, the U.S. Senate passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act today in a 69-30 vote. The bipartisan bill includes a $65 billion broadband proposal, designed to “connect every American to reliable high-speed internet,” according to the White House. As the package moves through the legislative process, NDIA will keep you updated on the bill and its impact on digital inclusion.

In the meantime, the NDIA team celebrated in person during our staff retreat with an ice cream cake celebrating the infrastructure bill and its $2.75 billion Digital Equity Act. Executive Director Angela Siefer and Board Chair Laura Breeden are pictured above in Columbus, Ohio.

“We are thrilled for this historic investment in Digital Equity, what it means for under resourced and grassroots organizations and the residents they serve. NDIA applauds and thanks the Senate and particularly the bi-partisan working group members for their work and taking this historic step towards bridging the digital divide.” – Angela Siefer, Executive Director, NDIA

More about the Bill and Digital Inclusion:

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.

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 we 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