Portman, Bennet, King Highlight New Federal Grants Made Available to Help Deliver Affordable, High-Speed Internet Nationwide
Today’s Funding Announcement for the Broadband Deployment Program Based on the Senators’ Bipartisan BRIDGE Act
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Angus King (I-ME) applaud the launch of three Notice of Funding (NOFO) opportunities totaling $45 billion to build out high-speed internet for every American as part of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Today the Administration announced the launch of three programs included in the bipartisan infrastructure law, including the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD) based on Portman, Bennet, and King’s bipartisan BRIDGE Act, which the senators introduced in June 2021.
“Too many rural and low-income communities in Ohio and across the U.S. lack affordable and reliable access to broadband. Thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure law, states now have the tools to deploy high-speed internet in areas that need it most, taking significant steps to finally close the digital divide,” said Portman. “I am pleased that my legislation with Senators Bennet and King was able to serve as a driving force in creating this first-of-its-kind program and I look forward to our folks at BroadbandOhio standing up Ohio’s program so communities and providers can take full advantage of this great opportunity.”
“Today’s announcement is part of the largest ever broadband investment in American history, and I am beyond gratified that it draws heavily on my BRIDGE Act with Senators King and Portman,” said Bennet. “This historic investment will extend the promise of high-speed broadband to students, workers, farmers, and small businesses across the country, driving opportunity, transforming communities, and allowing millions more people to fully participate in modern American life. I want to thank my colleagues Senators King and Portman. We would never have made it this far without their tremendous leadership and partnership.”
“From our country’s most rural areas to our largest cities, access to a high-speed, affordable internet connection is essential to 21st century life – from education to business to basic communication,” said King. “Today’s massive investment in broadband equity is an important step towards closing the digital divide and ensuring that no family or small business is left behind by the opportunities these modern connections bring. Crucially, by mirroring our bipartisan BRIDGE Act, these funds will reach the rural, low-income, and too-often overlooked communities who need them most. I believe that nationwide high-speed, affordable internet access will be as revolutionary as rural electrification was in the 1940s. I’m deeply grateful for Senator Bennet and Portman’s partnership on this vital issue, to President Biden for following through on the promises of our legislation, and to the Maine Connectivity Authority for the work they’ll do to deploy these historic funds.”
As part of its effort to bridge the digital divide, the three Notices of Funding Opportunities include:
- Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program ($42.5 billion);
- Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program ($1 billion); and,
- State Digital Equity Act programs ($1.5 billion).
To participate in the BEAD Program, states and other eligible entities must submit a letter of intent and a planning funds budget, which will unlock $5 million in planning funds and allow states to begin creating their five-year action plan. Each state will have direct support from the National Telecommunications Information Agency (NTIA) through every step of the process. Each participating state is guaranteed a minimum $100 million allocation, with additional funding based on the forthcoming coverage maps from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which are expected this fall.
The BEAD program is based on the bipartisan BRIDGE Act that Portman, Bennet, and King introduced in June 2021 to provide flexible funding to states, tribal governments, U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia to deploy affordable, high-speed networks and support local initiatives to promote broadband affordability, adoption, and inclusion.
In February, Portman, King, Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Susan Collins (R-ME) led 16 bipartisan senators in encouraging NTIA Assistant Secretary Alan Davidson to follow Congressional intent in implementing the $65 billion included in the IIJA for broadband expansion efforts across the United States. In March 2021, Portman led a bipartisan letter to the Biden administration’s top officials for federal broadband policy with Senators Bennet, King, and Manchin urging the Biden administration to raise and align broadband speeds and standards across the federal government.