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Vital to economic development, broadband access in rural areas is getting a $42 billion boost from the federal government. “It is… the most holistic approach to closing the digital divide in the U.S. ever,” said Tyler Cooper of BroadbandNow.
The second annual report on federal broadband funding is out. The “big four” sources of federal broadband funding are the Department of Commerce, the Federal Communications Commission, the Department of Treasury and the Department of Agriculture. Collectively, these departments are expanding broadband infrastructure to more households, schools, healthcare facilities and telehealth initiatives, businesses, farms, Tribal governments and institutions, libraries, colleges and “last-mile” areas.
High speed internet is an essential element of a healthy economy in today’s world, and it’s encouraging to see internet providers and government at virtually every level continue working to expand broadband internet access in rural areas. Modern agriculture and quality healthcare now depend on broadband access, as does economic development in all other areas. As funding opportunities grow, more communities are getting better at taking advantage.
The USDA recently announced that $20 million in federal funding is now available to deliver broadband technical assistance for rural communities. This funding opportunity will use technical assistance funds available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, with minimum awards of $50,000 and maximum awards of $1,000,000.
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Thune (R-SD), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to expand broadband access to rural communities. The Reforming Broadband Connectivity Act would strengthen funding mechanisms for the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Universal Service Fund (USF), which promotes universal access to broadband and other telecommunications services.
As severe weather events increase, so does danger to rural communities. Plans are in place to address the urban observation bias in national weather prediction, but the other piece — reliable broadband — could still be years away for places like Eastern Kentucky.
Over the past two years, millions of low-income U.S. households have received broadband internet at a discount through two consecutive government programs -- but they could soon lose that benefit.
To kick off the Broadband Initiative, the JTF has invested nearly $1 million in eight organizations working to close the digital divide in coal-impacted communities across the U.S.
One of the biggest roadblocks to closing coal companies is finding jobs for all the people who will be put out of work. The Just Transition Fund aims to bring broadband to coal country.
A look at why broadband remains inaccessible to certain communities, and why new federal efforts may still fail to reach them.
A look at the major difference broadband access in rural communities can make for employers, from a human resources-oriented perspective.
The end-of-year omnibus spending package passed by Congress has considerable support for broadband projects, as our friends at the Benton Institute discuss in this article.