As readers of our Beyond Telecom Law Blog know by now, Congress has just passed the largest broadband infrastructure funding package in US history. After a contentious few months in which its prospects were very much in question, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R.3684) (the Act) is now heading to President Biden’s desk.
For broadband service providers, broadband users, and broadband advocates of all stripes, it is difficult to overstate the magnitude of this funding infusion and its potential impact in the coming years. The broadband infrastructure grant program alone – with $42.45 billion appropriated – dwarfs all previous US broadband grant programs combined. Approximately $23 billion of additional funding is dedicated to a wide variety of other purposes, including multiple digital equity and broadband affordability initiatives, middle mile investment, and broadband mapping.
Over the coming days, the Telecommunications Practice Group at Keller and Heckman will publish a series of blog posts analyzing various aspects of the Act in depth. Earlier this summer, we published an analysis of the legislation (then in draft form) in which we outlined some of the key broadband provisions, the general mechanics of the programs, and the key timeframes. These points are of course crucial, and our blog series will endeavor to provide at least a high-level understanding of the key provisions in the Act.
Our primary objective, however, will be to provide useful analysis enabling readers to prepare for and take maximum advantage of the opportunity, in addition to highlighting some of the challenges that may complicate this watershed moment. It is our hope that this information will prove useful to current broadband service providers, as well as new initiatives involving local and state government entities, cooperatives, public private partnerships, power utilities, energy companies, and private sector providers.
We currently intend to publish analyses addressing the following topics:
- Broadband Infrastructure Grants for States (The Broadband Equity, Access & Deployment Program)
- Middle Mile Funding
- Focus on Partnerships
- The Digital Equity Act and Broadband Affordability Provisions
- How to Prepare
Finally, we invite your questions and feedback. If a given issue or angle is of particular interest, please feel free to let us know by sending an email to KHBroadband@khlaw.com.
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