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FCC, NTIA Authorize More Broadband Funding

A closeup of U.S. money
(Image credit: Yuriy_Kulik/Getty Images)

It has been a big week for government broadband subsidies.

The FCC said Wednesday (May 4) that it had committed another almost $39 million in its 14th tranche of the Emergency Connectivity Program Fund, a COVID-19 driven program targeted at closing the homework gap.

President Joe Biden has said that one of his administration's goals is to make sure that kids aren't having to go to a fast food restaurant parking lot to get the requisite connectivity to do their homework.

The latest round of funding is going to 140 schools, 14 libraries and a consortium in California, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Puerto Rico, and Virginia.

Also: FCC Hands Out More Rural Broadband Funding

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that the fund has now gotten more than 12.5 million students connected. Closing the homework gap has been a Rosenworcel priority sense she came to the FCC as a commissioner.

Elsewhere on the connectivity front, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration said it had awarded $77 million for broadband connectivity for dozens of tribes in 10 states. "This critical funding will bring affordable, high-speed internet service to tribes from Alaska to Rhode Island, and many places in between, expanding access to telehealth, distance learning, and workforce development," said Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program is funded by the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which set aside $980 million for broadband to eligible Native American, Alaska Native and Hawaiian Native entities. The Biden infrastructure law authorized another $2 billion infusion for the program, so there is plenty of money left -- so far $83 million has been handed out including this week's $77 million.

The FCC also announced earlier this week that it had authorized an additional almost $200 million for rural broadband development through its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). ■

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.