Connecting America: Biden’s $930 Million Grant Program Aims to Bring Internet to Every Home
Significant Progress Made in Efforts to Expand Internet Access in the US with $930 Million in Grants. A major milestone was achieved in the ambitious federal effort to provide internet access to every home in the United States. The Department of Commerce announced $930 million in grants, aimed at bridging connectivity gaps in remote regions of Alaska, rural Texas, and numerous other areas that continue to face significant challenges in accessing reliable internet connections.
The grants, known as middle mile grants, have been allocated to create extensive networks that will enable retail broadband providers to connect subscribers to the Internet. Department officials compared the role of the middle mile—the crucial section of the infrastructure that enables internet access, consisting of high-capacity fiber lines capable of transmitting vast amounts of data at incredibly high speeds—to the way the interstate highway system facilitated connections between communities.
Mitch Landrieu, the White House’s infrastructure coordinator, highlighted the importance of these networks during a media Zoom call, stating, “These networks are the workhorses carrying large amounts of data over very long distances. They’re the ones that are bridging the gap between the larger networks and the last mile connections, from tribal lands to underserved rural and remote areas to essential institutions like hospitals, schools, libraries, and major businesses.”
The grants have been awarded to a diverse range of recipients, including state government agencies, tribal governments, and telephone and electric cooperatives. The objective is to lay approximately 12,000 miles (19,300 kilometers) of new fiber across 35 states and Puerto Rico.
The largest grant, amounting to nearly $89 million, was awarded to an Alaska-based telecommunications company. Their goal is to construct a fiber network in a remote section of the state where an estimated 55% of the population lacks access to basic internet services.
This expansion initiative is just one of several endeavors promoted by President Joe Biden’s administration to enhance high-speed internet connectivity across the entire nation.
Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, described the Middle Mile program as a catalyst in the efforts to connect every individual in America, emphasizing that the grants will help establish the foundation for networks that will ultimately connect every home in the country to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet service.
These grants were made possible by the $65 billion allocated by Congress for broadband as part of the $1 trillion infrastructure package signed into law by President Biden in 2021. The majority of the funding, $42.5 billion, will be distributed to states as part of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, which will be based on newly created federal maps identifying areas lacking connectivity.
State allotments from the BEAD program are expected to be announced at the end of this month. States will then administer their own programs to identify recipients who will construct the last-mile networks necessary to reach unserved communities.
The winners of the middle mile grants announced on Friday will have up to five years to complete their projects once they receive the funds, with the possibility of a one-year extension under certain conditions. This substantial investment marks a significant step toward achieving the goal of ensuring universal access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet service for all Americans.