To date, 34 states have been approved to invest approximately $5 billion of Capital Projects Funds, which those states estimate will reach more than 1.4 million locations
WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the approval of broadband projects in South Carolina under the Capital Projects Fund in President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The state estimates it will use its funding to connect over 31,000 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet. A key priority of the Capital Projects Fund program is to make funding available for reliable, affordable broadband infrastructure, advancing President Biden’s goal of affordable, reliable, high-speed internet for all Americans.
The Capital Projects Fund (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. 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. Together, these American Rescue Plan programs and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are working in tandem to close the digital divide – deploying high-speed internet to those without access and lowering costs for those who cannot afford it.
“The pandemic upended life as we knew it and exposed the stark inequity in access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet in communities across the country, including rural, Tribal, and other underrepresented communities,” said Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo. “This funding is a key piece of the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investments to increase access to high-speed internet for millions of Americans and provide more opportunities to fully participate and compete in the 21st century economy.”
“I am pleased to join the Biden-Harris Administration to announce this historic $185 million investment from the American Rescue Plan to bring affordable, high-speed internet service to an estimated 31,650 households in South Carolina,” said Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn. “In the words of a Tennessee farmer in the 1930s who assessed the impact of rural electrification, saying, ‘the next greatest thing to having the love of God in your heart is having electricity in your home,’ these funds creating the Main Street SC grant program are ‘the Next, Next Greatest Thing’ for rural America. Just as electricity was vital to households in rural communities in the 20th century, affordable, high-speed internet service is vital for rural and low-income communities to thrive in the 21st century global economy. This investment will provide a lifeline for these households that have been unserved for far too long.”
South Carolina is approved to receive $185.8 million for broadband infrastructure, which the state estimates will connect approximately 31,000 households and businesses to high-speed internet access – representing 23% of locations still lacking high-speed internet access. South Carolina’s award will fund the Next, Next Greatest Thing – Main Street South Carolina (MAIN ST) grant program, a competitive last-mile broadband grant program designed to provide affordable, reliable broadband service to rural areas that currently lack adequate internet service. Within those eligible areas, the MAIN ST program prioritizes projects that will deliver broadband to rural town centers and the surrounding residential areas. The plan submitted to the Treasury Department and being approved today represents 100% of the state’s total allocation under the CPF program.
In accordance with the Treasury Department’s guidance, each state’s plan requires service providers to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The ACP helps ensure that households can afford the high-speed internet 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). Experts estimate that nearly 40% of U.S. households are eligible for the program.
To further lower costs, President Biden and Vice President Harris 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 of this agreement and the ACP, eligible households can receive internet access at no cost and can check their eligibility and sign up at GetInternet.gov. In addition to requiring funding recipients to participate in the ACP, the Treasury Department’s guidance requires recipients to consider whether the federally funded networks will be affordable to the target markets in their service areas and encourages them 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.
The Treasury Department began announcing state awards in June of last year. To date, 34 states have been approved to invest approximately $5 billion of CPF funding in affordable, reliable high-speed internet, which those states estimate will reach more than 1.4 million locations. The Treasury Department will continue approving state and Tribal plans on a rolling basis.