Commerce Outlines Its ‘Pivotal’ Broadband Funding Role

Herbert C. Hoover Building, home of the U.S. Commerce Department
Herbert C. Hoover Building, home of the U.S. Commerce Department (Image credit: APK/Wikimedia Commons)

The Commerce Department has issued a fact sheet breaking out how it will be handing out the vast majority of broadband subsidy funds just approved in President Joe Biden‘s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act infrastructure bill.

Commerce‘s National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) is overseeing the lion‘s share ($48 billion) of that funding or what it calls its “pivotal” role in rolling out broadband.

The Federal Communications Commission is already handing out billions through various other programs and legislative mandates, a point it has made this week in multiple announcements of the latest subsidies, including $700 million for rural broadband announced Wednesday and reaching a $150 million telehealth subsidy benchmark Tuesday (Nov. 9).

The Commerce fact sheet suggests that the funding is critical, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said this week that it should be enough to get affordable, high-speed broadband to everyone in the country.

NTIA pointed out in the fact sheet it will be handing out:

1. “$42.45 billion in grants to states (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico), and territories focused on funding high-speed broadband deployment to households and businesses that currently lack access to such services.” Each state gets $100 million and each territory $20 million.

2. “$2 billion for Tribal broadband grants, which is more than double the funding for NTIA‘s existing Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.”

3. “2.75 billion to fund digital equity. Those will include additional digital equity planning grants to states to "accelerate the adoption of broadband through digital literacy training, workforce development, devices access programs, and other digital inclusion measures.”

4. $1 billion for middle-mile connections ”to build a high-speed backbone for communities, businesses, and anchor institutions.“

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.