U.S. plans to announce broadband infrastructure funding plans by June 30

(Reuters) – The Biden administration said Wednesday it plans to announce by June 30 how it intends to allocate more than $42 billion in broadband infrastructure grants to states and territories.

The distribution formula from the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) agency is contingent on ensuring accurate maps of U.S. locations without access to high-speed broadband internet. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) separately said it will unveil a pre-production draft of new broadband maps on Thursday to improve provider data by incorporating challenges.

Individuals or others can search for their addresses and make challenges if they do not believe they accurately reflect available broadband internet services. State or tribal governments can make bulk challenges.

The infrastructure law authors said last year 19 million Americans lack access to high-speed internet.

The NTIA says challengers have their “best opportunity” to make challenges by Jan. 13 “in time for the FCC to include corrections in the final version of the map that will be used to allocate Internet for All funding in the summer of 2023.”

The $1 trillion November 2021 infrastructure bill includes $65 billion in total to boost access to the internet. There is a separate $10 billion COVID-19 aid program administered by the U.S. Treasury that also aims to boost broadband internet access in underserved communities.

The infrastructure bill also includes $14.2 billion for FCC vouchers for low-income families to use toward internet service plans. More than 14 million households are taking part.

In November 2021, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said the goal is for “every single American” to have access to high-speed affordable broadband, “which means truly affordable.”

She said states must “show us a plan that guarantees every single person in your state has access to high-speed affordable internet.” NTIA will release money, she said, after states submit plans that are approved by the department.

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