As President Obama observed earlier this year, “high-speed broadband is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.” So much of how we live our daily lives – from searching for a job to accessing health data – has moved online, which requires a high-speed broadband Internet connection. While there is broad consensus on the need to ensure Americans have access to broadband, figuring out how to fund it is still a major challenge for many communities.
In the last six years, NTIA has made great progress in expanding broadband access and adoption through our broadband grant programs, funded by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. While these grants are now coming to an end, we recognize there is still more work to do, and earlier this year we launched BroadbandUSA to continue this momentum. Leaning on the expertise gained from managing our $4 billion grant programs, BroadbandUSA provides communities with technical and strategic advice on how to expand broadband access and adoption.
As part of this new initiative, we are pleased to release our Broadband Funding Guide, which provides a roadmap on how to access federal funding to support broadband planning, public access, digital literacy, adoption, and deployment. The guide details a wide range of opportunities. For example, NTIA’s sister agency, the Economic Development Administration, provides funding for eligible projects in distressed communities through its Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance grant programs, while the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program offers funding for projects aimed at low- and moderate-income people.
The guide is not meant to provide an exhaustive list of all federal funding opportunities. Instead, it can serve as a starting point for communities to explore potential federal financing options. Communities should consider additional funding sources, including state grants and local resources. Communities may also want to consult our Introduction to Effective Public-Private Partnerships released earlier this year, which provides information on developing a successful partnership model for broadband investments. In the coming weeks and months, BroadbandUSA will be releasing additional publications to assist communities as they seek out ways to ensure their residents have access to cutting-edge broadband technology.