RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/AP) — Four U.S. states will be receiving half a billion dollars in an effort to expand broadband internet access, according to Associated Press.
Louisiana, New Hampshire, Virginia and West Virginia will be the first states to receive funding as part of the $10 billion Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund with the goal to bring internet service to 200,000 homes and businesses.
About 9% of Virginians fall on or below the poverty line and 86% households had broadband internet subscriptions from 2016 to 2020, according to US Census data. Virginia is set to receive about $220 million to provide more support.
As part of this new wave of federal broadband funding, service providers are required to offer discounts to customers, expand their networks and have upload speeds of 100 megabytes per second or more. Additionally, they must participate in the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program which allows households with incomes 200% and below of Federal Poverty Guidelines to qualify for discounts from either $30 month or $75 on tribal lands.
Federal efforts over the last 30 years have left some networks being partially built-out or unfinished according to US Senator Mark Warner. Many programs only provided periodic funding with some money going to startups that were unknowledgeable in building out networks.
There are more than 100 federal programs operated by 15 agencies to grant more internet access. The total number of programs “has led to a fragmented, overlapping patchwork of funding,” according to a Government Accountability Office report given in late May.
Advocates for the Capital Projects Fund say this program will provide safeguards and accountability ensure the money goes where it is supposed to. State governments will be working with the Treasury to guarantee the job gets done.
“There will still have to be an execution risk here,” Warner said. “By having both state and federal oversight, I hope we can get it right.”
Although only four states have received funding, other states can qualify for funding by submitting plans showing a significant need to the Treasury Department by September 24.