On Thursday, May 19, Governor John Bel Edwards and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that Louisiana has signed on to participate in the “Internet for All” initiative, which will invest $65 billion to provide affordable, reliable, high-speed internet for everyone in America by the end of the decade.
Funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and administered by NTIA, the Internet for All programs will build internet infrastructure, teach digital skills, and provide necessary technology to ensure that everyone in America – including communities of color, rural communities, and older Americans – have the access and skills they need to fully participate in today’s society.
“Partnering with Commerce/NTIA will allow Louisiana to achieve what we thought was impossible. We will now have the financial resources necessary to once and for all eliminate the digital divide in Louisiana. We are grateful to both Secretary Raimondo and Assistant Secretary Davidson of NTIA for their leadership and partnership. Over the past several years, our Broadband Office (ConnectLa) has worked hard to align resources between federal, state, and local officials to take full advantage of this historic broadband funding opportunity. We look forward to partnering with the people of Louisiana to make closing the divide a reality,” said Gov. Edwards.
The Internet for All programs launched last Friday with three Notices of Funding Opportunity:
- Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program ($42.5 billion);
- Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program ($1 billion); and,
- State Digital Equity Act programs ($1.5 billion).
“Generations before us brought electricity to rural America and built the interstate highways,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information. “Our generation’s task is to connect all Americans online. Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, states are joining NTIA in this major new program to promote Internet access and adoption so that everyone in America has a chance to thrive in the modern economy.”
To participate in the BEAD Program, Louisiana has submitted a letter of intent and a planning funds budget, which will unlock $5 million in planning funds and allow states to begin creating their five-year action plan. Each state will have direct support from dedicated NTIA staff through every step of the process. Each participating state is guaranteed a minimum $100 million allocation, with additional funding determinations made based on the forthcoming coverage maps from the Federal Communications Commission.
Friday’s launch of the State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program kicks off a series of Digital Equity Act steps that will invest $1.5 billion to heighten adoption and use, like digital literacy training, for those who need it most, including communities of color, rural communities, and older Americans. The Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program will award grants on a technology neutral, competitive basis to eligible entities for the construction, improvement, or acquisition of middle-mile infrastructure.
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