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Closing the Digital Divide with the $42 Billion BEAD Program

Portrait of Russ Fordyce

September 6, 2023
By Russ Fordyce
Director of Marketing

Earlier this summer, the Biden-Harris administration announced the state allocations for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, a $42.45 billion federal program that was authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) in 2021. The goal of the BEAD Program is to expand high-speed internet access to all Americans, regardless of their income, race, ethnicity, or location.

The BEAD Program provides funding for three main activities:

  • Planning: States, territories, and the District of Columbia (DC) can use BEAD funds to develop plans for expanding broadband access in their jurisdictions. These plans must be coordinated with local governments and other stakeholders.
  • Infrastructure deployment: BEAD funds can be used to build new broadband networks or to upgrade existing networks. The program prioritizes projects that will serve unserved and underserved areas.
  • Adoption: BEAD funds can also be used to help people afford broadband service. This includes providing subsidies for service, offering digital literacy training, and connecting people to public computers.

This is a significant investment in expanding high-speed internet access in the United States. The program has the potential to close the digital divide and ensure that all Americans have access to the essential services and opportunities that broadband provides.

Where will the money go?

The BEAD Program prioritizes projects that will serve unserved and underserved areas. Communication service providers, network operators, and other companies will look at projects in these areas to design new networks and expand service coverage. Underserved areas are those that do not have affordable access to broadband speeds of at least 25 Mb/s for downloads and 3 Mb/s for uploads.

The BEAD Program is a significant investment in the future of the United States. The program has the potential to close the digital divide and ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to participate fully in the digital economy.

Infographic - BEAD Grant Program for High-speed Internet - Infinera

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