Kansas, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota are approved to receive funds under the American Rescue Plan and will connect over 83,000 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet
WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the approval of an additional group of four states under the American Rescue Plan’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund (CPF): Kansas, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota. The CPF provides $10 billion to states, territories, freely associated states, and Tribal governments to fund critical capital projects that enable work, education, and health monitoring in response to the public health emergency. A key priority of the program is to make funding available for reliable, affordable broadband infrastructure and other digital connectivity technology projects. In addition to the $10 billion provided by the CPF, many governments are using a portion of their State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) toward meeting the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of connecting every American household to affordable, reliable high-speed internet. Through these two programs, the American Rescue Plan is supplying considerable federal broadband funding and laying the groundwork for future funding provided in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
“The pandemic upended life as we knew it—from work to school to connecting with friends and family—and exposed the stark inequity in access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet in communities across the country, but especially in rural, Tribal, and low-income communities,” said Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo. “This funding will lay the foundation for the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investments to increase access to high-speed internet and reduce broadband bills for American households and businesses.”
The state plans approved in this group will support broadband infrastructure and are designed, upon project completion, to deliver reliable internet service that meets or exceeds symmetrical download and upload speeds of 100 megabits per second (Mbps), speeds that are needed for a household with multiple users to simultaneously access the internet to telework and access education and health monitoring. Treasury designed its guidance to prioritize connecting families and business with poor and inadequate service—particularly those in rural and remote areas. Treasury also requires states to explain why communities they have identified to be served with funds from the CPF have a critical need for those projects.
In accordance with Treasury’s guidance, each state’s plan requires service providers to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP helps ensure that households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare, and more by providing a discount of up to $30 per month (or up to $75 per eligible household on Tribal lands). The FCC estimates that about 48 million families are eligible for the program—nearly 40% of households. President Biden and Vice President Harris recently announced the administration had secured commitments from 20 leading internet service providers—covering more than 80% of the U.S. population—to offer all ACP-eligible households high-speed, high-quality internet plans for no more than $30 per month. As a result, these households will receive internet access at no cost, helping to close the digital divide for millions of Americans who could not previously have afforded internet service. Beyond the ACP, Treasury’s guidance requires recipients to consider whether the federally funded networks will be affordable to the target markets in their service area and encourages recipients to require that a federally funded project offer at least one low-cost option at speeds that are sufficient for a household with multiple users.
In June, Treasury announced the first four state recipients of CPF awards with plans to connect over 200,000 homes and businesses to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. Treasury has already approved awards to 50 Tribal governments and intends to continue approving state and Tribal plans on a rolling basis. States must submit their plans to Treasury by September 24, 2022, and all four states have until this deadline to submit plans for the remainder of their funds. The following descriptions summarize the four state plans that Treasury approved today.
- Kansas, approved for $83.5 million (representing 58% of its available CPF funding), estimates it will connect 21,300 homes and businesses by building high-speed internet service in areas where there is a demonstrated need. The Broadband Acceleration Grant Program, a competitive grant program, will contribute to bridging the digital divide by providing access to reliable high-speed internet connections. CPF dollars will help build reliable infrastructure that is affordable in the areas the program is designed to serve.
- Maine, approved for $110 million (representing 86% of its available CPF funding), estimates it will connect 22,500 homes and businesses by supporting the Maine Infrastructure Ready to invest in qualified locations that can be served by line extensions of existing networks or new networks. This competitive grant program is focused on serving locations that currently lack access to reliable high-speed internet access , including remote locations in Maine’s most rural counties.
- Maryland, approved for $95 million (representing 55% of its available CPF funding), estimates it will connect 16,667 homes and businesses by supporting the Network Infrastructure Grant Program, a competitive broadband grant program that will provide funding directly to internet service providers (ISPs) for qualifying large-scale broadband projects in areas that lack service. The program aims to close the racial and socioeconomic digital divide across the state.
- Minnesota, approved for $68.4 million (representing 38% of its available CPF funding), estimates it will connect 23,517 homes and businesses by using the funds for its Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program, a competitive grant program designed to provide financial resources for new and existing ISPs to invest in building broadband infrastructure in areas of the state that currently lack high-speed internet.