Today’s Funding Announcement for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program Based on the Senators’ Bipartisan BRIDGE Act
Denver, Colorado – Today, U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Angus King (I-Maine), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) celebrated the launch of the Biden Administration’s initiative to invest $45 billion to provide affordable, reliable, high-speed internet for every American by the end of the decade as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Today the Biden Administration announced three Notice of Funding (NOFO) opportunities, including for the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD) based on Bennet, Portman, and King’s bipartisan BRIDGE Act, which the senators introduced in June 2021 and secured in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“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.”
“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.”
As part of its effort to connect every American to affordable, reliable high-speed internet, the Biden administration announced three Notices of Funding Opportunities:
- 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 Bennet, King, and Portman 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. Bennet first introduced the BRIDGE Act in 2020 with Senator King.
The historic broadband investment in the bipartisan infrastructure law builds on Bennet’s longtime leadership to ensure access to affordable, high-speed broadband for every American. Earlier this year, he led a bipartisan letter to the Biden Administration’s top officials for federal broadband policy with Senators King, Portman, and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) urging the Biden administration to raise and align broadband speeds and standards across the federal government. In March, Bennet helped to secure more than $7 billion for the FCC’s E-Rate program in the American Jobs Plan to connect low-income students online. In June 2020, Bennet also co-sponsored the Emergency Broadband Connections Act, which was adapted into the Affordable Connectivity Program announced by the Biden administration earlier this week to provide eligible Americans a $30 subsidy to afford high-speed internet.