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Rural states to reap benefits of $42.5 billion broadband fund

Texas, California and Missouri will get the most money from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program in 2023.

Texas, California and Missouri will get the most money from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program in 2023.

The White House announced a new round of funding for rural broadband Internet build-out and similar initiatives, with fresh money disbursed from the $1 trillion infrastructure improvement package signed into law nearly two years ago.

Texas will receive the most money from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, with $3.3 billion earmarked toward fiber build-out and other broadband infrastructure improvement projects. California received the second-highest amount, with more than $1.86 billion awarded, followed by Missouri at $1.736 billion.

The states were among 19 to receive grant money in excess of $1 billion, the White House said in a statement.

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American territories will receive more than $630 million in broadband grants through the program, with Puerto Rico receiving the most money at $334.6 million, followed by Guam with an award of over $156 million.

Money will start going to states early next year, and projects could see their groundbreakings in mid-2024, officials with the White House and the U.S. Department of Commerce told reporters on Monday. Materials used in these projects, including fiber-optic lines needed to carry high-speed Internet and other data connections, will largely be manufactured in the United States, which should spur a sharp uptick in domestic jobs.

“Anticipating this major investment in high-speed internet infrastructure deployment, earlier this year, fiber optic cable manufacturers CommScope and Corning announced $47 million and $500 million expansions of their domestic manufacturing capacity, which will create hundreds of good-paying American jobs in North Carolina,” a White House spokesperson said in a statement on Monday. “These investments are part of the nearly $500 billion in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments spurred by the President’s Investing in America agenda.”

In addition to the BEAD funding, the White House and U.S. Department of Commerce also announced on Monday a new injection of federal money into the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which offers subsidized phone and broadband Internet connections, as well as smartphones, tablets and laptop computers, to low income Americans. More than $14.2 billion is being offered through the program, which nets most customers a $30 discount on their phone or home Internet bills. Comcast, Charter Communnications’ Spectrum, Astound and the three major wireless phone companies all participate in the ACP.

Another $2.75 billion will be earmarked for initiatives launched through the Digital Equity Act, which offers community-based outreach programs that give citizens the skills and tools needed to make the most of broadband Internet services. Around $2 billion in funds will go to the Triabl Broadband Connectivity Program, and another $2 billion to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Reconnect Program.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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