As a part of his bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), U.S. Senator Jon Tester secured $45 billion in Department of Commerce funding to bring high speed internet, digital skills, and necessary technology to every corner of the United States – including rural America. Montana will receive at least $100 million over a five year period with potential for additional funding after the FCC coverage maps are finalized.
“Reliable, affordable access to high speed internet is key to the success of Montana’s students and small businesses in the 21st century,” said Tester. “For years rural America has lagged behind the rest of the nation in digital infrastructure, but my bipartisan infrastructure bill is changing that. Because of my work with five Republicans and four other Democrats, we’re ensuring that Montana’s economy continues to grow, and our next generation of leaders will have the tools they need to succeed for generations to come.”
As a part of Tester’s bipartisan IIJA, the Administration announced its Internet for All initiative which will build internet infrastructure, teach digital skills, and provide necessary technology to ensure that everyone in America – including rural communities, communities of color, and older Americans – have the access and skills they need to fully participate in the 21st century economy. The initiative will be administered and implemented by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
The programs launched today through Tester’s IIJA and with three Notices of Funding Opportunity include:
- Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program ($42.5 billion);
- Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program ($1 billion);
- 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 participating state is guaranteed a minimum $100 million allocation, with additional funding determinations made based on the forthcoming coverage maps from the Federal Communications Commission.
The Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program will award grants on a technology-neutral, competitive basis to eligible entities for the construction, improvement, or acquisition of middle-mile infrastructure. Middle mile infrastructure will help reduce the cost of bringing internet access to unserved and underserved areas by enhancing the broadband backbone between networks and carriers who serve the end user.
The Digital Equity Act will invest $1.5 billion to fund community programs that encourage internet adoption in communities that have historically underused the internet and provide digital literacy training tailored to consumers language, geography, age and race. This funding will be geared towards state and community collaborations.
Tester worked across the aisle for months to negotiate the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act with a group of five Republicans, four Democrats, and the White House, and he was the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation to vote for it. Tester’s law is projected to create more than 800,000 American jobs and lower costs for businesses by making targeted investments that will strengthen our nation without raising taxes on working families
A list of the legislation’s provisions can be found HERE and direct application links can be found at https://www.internetforall.gov/