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U.S. Government Invests $930 Million in Expanding Nationwide Internet Connectivity: Bridging Digital Divide in Remote and Underserved Regions

In a bid to expand nationwide internet access, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a major $930 million grant initiative on Friday aimed at improving internet connections in remote parts of Alaska, rural Texas, and other regions with significant connectivity issues.

Purpose of Middle Mile Grants: Termed ‘middle mile grants,’ these funds are designed to establish expansive networks facilitating retail broadband providers to connect subscribers to the internet. The middle mile represents the core section of internet infrastructure, comprising high-capacity fiber lines that transmit large volumes of data at high speeds, thus enabling connections between communities akin to the interstate highway system.

The grant recipients encompass a variety of state government agencies, tribal governments, and telephone and electric cooperatives, whose efforts are expected to stimulate the installation of approximately 12,000 miles (19,300 kilometers) of new fiber in 35 states and Puerto Rico. The most substantial grant, almost $89 million, was allocated to an Alaskan telecommunications company planning to construct a fiber network in a remote part of the state where about 55% of the population lacks basic internet access.

This funding initiative forms part of several measures propelled by President Joe Biden’s administration to extend high-speed internet to the entire U.S., funded by the $65 billion from Congress for broadband under the $1 trillion infrastructure law signed by Biden in 2021. The Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program will distribute most of these funds ($42.5 billion) to states based on newly drafted federal maps identifying unconnected areas.

After receiving the funds, winners of the middle mile grants will have up to five years to accomplish their projects, with the potential for a one-year extension under certain circumstances.

By CircleID Reporter

CircleID’s internal staff reporting on news tips and developing stories. Do you have information the professional Internet community should be aware of? Contact us.

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