The Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 Becomes Law
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. has signed the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (“the Act”), which allocates $65 billion to broadband infrastructure programs. These programs will be primarily administered by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), the Rural Utilities Service (“RUS”), and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”).
Specifically, the Act appropriates $14.2 billion to extend and modify the current Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, now called the Affordable Connectivity Program, which will be administered by the FCC. This program will provide a $30 per month broadband subsidy for low-income and other consumers in-need, a reduction from the current subsidy rate of $50 per month.
The Act allocates the following funds to NTIA:
· $42.5 billion for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (“BEAD”). BEAD will make grants to states for broadband-related programs based on a prioritization scheme of unserved, underserved, and anchor institutions. Eligible areas will be determined by the FCC’s Broadband Data Maps. At least $100 million is reserved for each of the fifty (50) states.
· $2.75 billion for the Digital Equity Program to provide “individuals and communities [with] the information technology capacity that is needed for full participation in the society and economy of the United States.”
· $1 billion for the Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program, a program designed to promote a highspeed backbone for communities, businesses, and anchor institutions. These middle mile projects must be constructed within five (5) years.
· $2 billion in additional funding for the Tribal Broadband Program.
The Act also includes:
· An additional $2 billion in funding for RUS Reconnect Programs;
· $600 million appropriated for tax exempt Private Equity Bonds that states and local governments can use to enhance broadband deployment; and
· $50 million to the Department of Defense to study and prepare for future auctions in the 3.1–3.45 GHz bands.
More details on the Act and access to funding is forthcoming. As was the case with previous stimulus funding over the past two (2) years, if you need assistance navigating these programs or applying for funds, please contact Dee Herman at [email protected], Clare Andonov at [email protected], or Hilary Rosenthal at [email protected].