Louisiana to get $176.7 million in US bailout to boost affordable high-speed internet access
Today the US Treasury Department announced the first group of plans approved under the US bailout Coronavirus capital projects fund (CPF), which includes Louisiana. The CPF provides $10 billion to states, territories, freely associated states and tribal governments to fund critical capital projects that enable labor, education and health surveillance in response to the emergency of public health. One of the main priorities of the program is to make funds available for reliable and affordable broadband infrastructure and other digital connectivity technology projects. In addition to the $10 billion provided by the CPF, many governments are using a portion of their state and local fiscal stimulus funds (SLFRF) to meet the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of connecting every American home to a Reliable and affordable high-speed Internet. Through these two programs, the U.S. bailout provides one of the first major waves of federal broadband funding under the Biden-Harris administration and lays the foundation for future funding under the Investment Act. and employment in infrastructure.
“We are grateful to be recognized and endorsed by Under Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo as one of the first four states to formally approve our State Broadband Subsidy (GUMBO) program,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “The digital divide presents a great challenge for the people of Louisiana, but it’s a challenge we will overcome. Today’s announcement is a testament to the pace at which our State Office of Broadband (ConnectLa) is working to develop policies and top-notch plans to ensure everyone in Louisiana has access to affordable high-speed internet.”
“The pandemic has exposed long-standing challenges that workers and families face when they lack adequate internet access, especially those living in rural areas and other unconnected communities. That’s why these broadband investments across the country are so critical,” said Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo. “This funding through the U.S. Bailout will help connect thousands of homes and businesses in Louisiana to affordable high-speed internet and help bridge the digital divide in communities where connectivity is needed most. The Treasury commends Louisiana for targeting this funding to where it is needed most in the state.
The approved state plans in this first group will support broadband infrastructure and are designed, upon project completion, to deliver reliable Internet service that meets or exceeds symmetric upload and download speeds of 100 megabits per second. (Mbps), speeds that are needed for a household. with multiple users to simultaneously access the Internet for telecommuting and access education and health monitoring. The Treasury has designed its guidelines to prioritize connecting families and businesses with poor and inadequate service – especially those in rural and remote areas. The Treasury also requires states to explain why the communities they have identified to be served with CPF funds are in critical need for these projects.
Per Treasury guidelines, each state’s plan requires all service providers to participate in the new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). ACP helps ensure that households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and more by offering a rebate of up to $30 per month. The FCC estimates that about 48 million families are eligible for the program, or nearly 40% of households. President Biden and Vice President Harris recently announced their work to secure commitments from 20 major internet service providers – covering more than 80% of the US population – to provide all ACP-eligible households with high-speed internet plans. and high quality for no more than $30 a month. As a result, these households will receive free internet access, helping to bridge the digital divide for millions of people who previously could not afford internet service. Beyond the CPA, Treasury guidelines require recipients to determine whether funded networks will be affordable to target markets in their service area and encourage recipients to require that a funded project offer at least one low-cost option. cost at speeds sufficient for a household. with multiple users.
During the implementation of this program, the Treasury coordinated closely with its inter-institutional partners and concluded a interagency agreement in May 2022 with the FCC, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the United States Department of Agriculture to share information and collaborate in the collection and reporting of data and metrics on proposed broadband deployments.
Together, the state’s first CPF recipients plan to connect more than 200,000 homes and businesses to reliable and affordable high-speed internet. The Treasury has already approved more than 30 awards to tribal governments and intends to continue approving state and tribal plans on an ongoing basis. States must submit their plans to the Treasury no later than September 24, 2022. The following descriptions highlight the four Treasury-approved state plans.
- Louisiana, approved for $176.7 million (representing 100% of its available CPF funding), will provide funding to connect nearly 88,500 homes and businesses that currently lack internet access at 25/3 Mbps speeds via the new Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities (GUMBO), a competitive multi-phase broadband infrastructure grant program. Louisiana estimates that projects receiving funding from this CPF award will reduce the digital divide for approximately 25% of all sites without high-speed Internet access in the state.
- New Hampshire, approved for an initial allocation of $50 million (representing 41% of its available CPF funding), estimates that it will serve 15,000 homes and businesses, in rural and remote areas, representing approximately 50% of the locations in the ‘State who do not have access to high-speed Internet. The state’s new Broadband Contract Program is designed to select and support a local Internet Service Provider (ISP) to deliver Internet service to the most rural areas of the state without Internet service. The program will prioritize applicants that encourage the maximum number of locations to be served at the lowest cost, and broadband networks that will be owned, operated by, or affiliated with local governments, nonprofits, and cooperatives.
- Virginia, approved for $219.8 million (representing 100% of its available CPF funding), will use the funds to expand last-mile broadband access to approximately 76,873 locations, or approximately 28% of the locations that the State, do not have access to high-quality broadband service. Through a competitive grant program overseen by the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative (VATI), local governments, in partnership with Internet service providers, apply for funds to deploy universal coverage solutions in affected communities.
- West Virginia, approved for $136.3 million (representing 100% of its available CPF funding), estimates that projects receiving funding from this CPF award will serve 20,000 locations, or approximately 10% of the locations in the state that n don’t have high-speed internet access. The state will use three separate grant programs that focus funding for last-mile connections to homes and businesses currently without internet access at speeds of at least 25/3 Mbps. The Line Extension Advancement and Development (LEAD) program will fund extensions of last mile broadband networks that can be built quickly, the Major Broadband Project Strategies (MBPS) program will fund larger scale projects designed to serve a large number of eligible addresses, and GigReady will provide local governments with the ability to use the SLFRF as matching funds for broadband infrastructure projects. Each of these three programs is designed to allow funding to reach areas most difficult to serve due to low population density, rurality or other factors.