US Treasury approves first state projects from $10 billion COVID broadband fund According to Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A splice box containing 432 fiber optic cables is pictured in Oldham County, Louisville, Kentucky, USA, April 19, 2021. REUTERS / Amira Karaoud

By David Lawder and David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday announced the first state award from a $10 billion COVID-19 aid program aimed at boosting broadband internet access in communities. underserved, funding $583 million projects in Virginia, West Virginia, Louisiana, and New Hampshire.

The Coronavirus Capital Project Fund, a relatively unannounced part of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion US Rescue Plan Act, provides money for broadband infrastructure and projects. Others allow supervision of work, education and health care.

The program is different from a separate, $65 billion initiative funded through 2021’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure legislation to boost internet access.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner told reporters: “For the next three years, there shouldn’t be any excuses while virtually every home in America, in the 98 percent north, should have no connection. high-speed broadband at an affordable price”. “We just have to make sure we do it well.”

The Treasury said the approved initial state plans are the first viable plans submitted and are designed to provide reliable internet service that can meet or exceed “needs” speeds. necessary for a household with multiple users accessing the internet simultaneously.”

Virginia will receive $219.8 million to expand broadband access “the last mile” to 76,873 locations, the Treasury said. West Virginia was approved for $136.3 million to connect 20,000 locations, including hard-to-reach areas, while Louisiana was approved for $176.7 million to connect 88,500 homes and businesses – about 25% of the state’s locations lack high-speed internet access.

New Hampshire will receive $50 million to serve 15,000 homes and businesses in rural areas, about 50% of the locations the state estimates lack access to high-speed internet. The Treasury has individually awarded a total of $6 million to more than 30 tribal governments to boost internet connectivity.

Congress last year approved $42.5 billion in Commerce Department grants to expand physical broadband deployment and $14.2 billion in FCC vouchers for families with low income used for internet service packages. More than 12.2 million households are participating.

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