Monday, April 10, 2023
Combined with other Administration initiatives, President Biden’s Investing in America agenda has brought affordable internet to 17 million American households
GETTYSBURG, PA — Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Chief Recovery Officer Jacob Leibenluft joined White House American Rescue Plan Coordinator Gene Sperling and U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Jr. to announce the approval of $200 million for high-speed internet projects in Pennsylvania under the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund, part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. The state will use its funding to connect approximately 44,000 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet.
A key priority of the Capital Projects Fund program is making funding available for reliable broadband infrastructure, advancing President Biden’s goal of affordable, high-speed internet for everyone in America. Already, President Biden’s Investing in America agenda has delivered affordable high-speed internet to 17 million American households through the Capital Projects Fund and through the Affordable Connectivity Program funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, saving each household at least $30 per month and supporting one of the strongest and fastest economic recoveries in history.
“The pandemic upended life as we knew it and exposed the stark inequity in access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet in communities across the country, including rural, Tribal, and other underrepresented communities,” said Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo. “This funding is a key piece of the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investments to increase access to high-speed internet for millions of Americans and provide more opportunities to fully participate and compete in the 21st century economy.”
“The announcement today reflects President Biden and Senator Casey’s deep understanding that having high-speed internet that is affordable enough and strong enough for every small business and every home in every community — rural or urban — is now essential for any worker, small business owner, or young person to be able to thrive economically and educationally,” said Gene Sperling.
“Too often, families, particularly those in our rural communities, are left at a disadvantage when it comes to high-speed internet access. This $200 million award from the American Rescue Plan will help level the playing field,” said Senator Casey. “I will continue working to expand high-speed internet in Pennsylvania to ensure families stay connected and small businesses stay competitive in an increasingly digital world.”
“We live in a world where access to digital infrastructure is just as important to physical infrastructure, for learning, for running a business, and for receiving health care,” said Pennsylvania Seventh District Congresswoman Susan Wild. “Pennsylvania is set to significantly expand this vital connection to families and businesses caught in the digital-divide, thanks to the President’s commitment to ensuring broadband access for every American and Senator Casey and I’s work to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the American Rescue Plan Act.”
The Capital Projects Fund (CPF) provides $10 billion to states, territories, freely associated states, and Tribal governments to fund critical capital projects that enable work, education, and health monitoring in response to the public health emergency. In addition to the $10 billion provided by the CPF, many governments are using a portion of their State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) toward meeting the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of connecting every American household to affordable, reliable high-speed internet. Together, these American Rescue Plan programs and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are working in tandem with President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to close the digital divide – deploying high-speed internet to those without access and lowering costs for those who cannot afford it.
Pennsylvania is approved to receive $200 million for high-speed internet infrastructure, which the state estimates will connect roughly 44,000 households and businesses to high-speed internet. Pennsylvania’s Broadband Infrastructure Program is a competitive grant program designed to fund two types of projects: large-scale regional projects and line extensions. Eligible large-scale regional projects will provide reliable broadband to broad areas of the commonwealth, while eligible line extension projects will extend existing last-mile networks to areas that lack adequate internet service. The plan submitted to Treasury and being approved today represents 72% of the state’s total allocation under the Capital Project Funds program. Pennsylvania has submitted plans for the remainder of their Capital Project Funds and the applications are currently under review by Treasury.
In accordance with Treasury’s guidance, each state’s plan requires service providers to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The Affordable Connectivity Program, funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, helps ensure that households can afford high-speed internet by providing a discount of up to $30 per month (or up to $75 per eligible household on Tribal lands). Experts estimate that nearly 40% of U.S. households are eligible for the program.
To further lower costs, President Biden and Vice President Harris announced last year that the Administration had secured commitments from 20 leading internet service providers—covering more than 80% of the U.S. population—to offer all ACP-eligible households high-speed, reliable internet plans for no more than $30 per month. As a result of this agreement and the ACP, eligible households can receive internet access at no cost and can check their eligibility and sign up at GetInternet.gov.
Treasury began announcing state awards in June of last year. To date, 38 states have been approved to invest approximately $5.4 billion of Capital Project Funds in affordable, reliable high-speed internet, which those states estimate will reach more than 1.62 million locations. Treasury will continue approving state and Tribal plans on a rolling basis.
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