Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Overview
On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed HR 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, into law. This Act includes a significant investment of $65 billion to help close the digital divide and ensure that all Americans have access to reliable, high speed, and affordable broadband. This investment builds upon the funding for broadband deployment provided in the American Rescue Plan, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, the FCC’s Universal Service program, and USDA’s Rural Utilities Service broadband programs.
This historic investment will lay critical groundwork for widespread access and affordability of broadband, creating new jobs and economic opportunities, providing increased access to healthcare services, enriching educational experiences of students, and improving overall quality of life for all Americans.
- Specifically on broadband ($65 billion total), the bill:
- Sets aside $42.5 billion for a new Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, which will be allocated across each state and administered through NTIA;
- $2.75 billion for digital inclusion efforts. On the adoption side, the legislation includes the “Digital Equity Act of 2021” which creates $1.5 billion “State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program” – where money will be split into two pots: $60 million for states to create Digital Equity plans and $1.44 billion ($240 million in FY2022; $300 million each year FY2023-26) to assist with the implementation of such plans;
- Another $1.25 billion total that will fund the Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program (or $250 million per year for fiscal years 2022-2026). This money will not go to digital equity programs as defined by the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program mentioned above. Funds must be spent on items like digital inclusion activities, computer training, devices and public computing centers at anchor institutions;
- $2 billion for the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program;
- Establishes a $1B grant program to support deployments of middle mile infrastructure;
- Builds on the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program by investing $14.2 billion in a newly named Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which is more than 4 times the funding level provided to EBB in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021; and
- Sets aside $2 billion for the USDA’s ReConnect Loan and Grant Program.