Late Last week, the White House put out a statement on broadband funding and President Trump’s infrastructure plan. The bad news – there’s not money specifically set aside for broadband; the good news – states are welcome to spend their money on broadband…
WHAT: The President’s Infrastructure Initiative will provide critical funding to help improve broadband access across rural America.
Last week, the President released the details of his infrastructure plan which will provide Federal funding to help repair and modernize rural infrastructure, including broadband. The President’s plan dedicates $50 billion to rural infrastructure, accounting for 25 percent of all Federal spending in the plan. These funds will be awarded directly to the states, giving them the flexibility they need to address their individual rural infrastructure needs.
Under the President’s plan, states will have flexibility to spend as much as 100 percent of the Federal funding they receive on improving rural broadband access. This funding boost will build off of actions the President has already taken to provide more Americans with broadband access in rural areas, such as the Executive Order on “Streamlining and Expediting Requests to Locate Broadband Facilities in Rural America.”
WHY: Expanding broadband access will build a stronger rural America.
Too many rural Americans still don’t have sufficient broadband access. Rural communities have been left behind as high deployment costs have held back internet providers from installing equipment. In 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) estimated that 23 million rural Americans lack access to sufficient broadband.
Inadequate broadband access is a barrier to rural prosperity. It stunts economic growth and prevents many rural Americans from engaging in the modern economy. Further, lack of broadband access deprives many rural students of educational opportunities afforded to those living in areas with better connectivity.
Expanded broadband access will offer a better quality of life and more economic opportunity for rural communities that have been left behind for too long.
I think it bodes well in Minnesota that we have an Office of Broadband Development ready to manage any funding. I suspect states without an agency or department focused on broadband will have harder time both making the case for spending infrastructure on broadband and just going through the logistics of spending that money.