The U.S. Treasury released the first state awards from a $10 billion COVID-19 aid program intended to boost broadband internet access in underserved areas.
$583 million worth of projects were announced for the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Louisiana and New Hampshire.
The Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund, a low-key provision of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, provides funding for broadband infrastructure and other projects related to work, education and healthcare monitoring.
“In the next three years there should not be any excuse while virtually every home in America, north of 98 per cent, shouldn’t have full high-speed broadband connectivity at an affordable rate,” said Democratic Senator Mark Warner in a press conference.
Virginia will get $219.8 million to expand “last mile” broadband access to 76,873 locations while West Virginia will receive $136.3 million to connect 20,000 locations. Louisiana will receive $176.7 million to connect 88,500 homes and businesses comprising 25 per cent of state locations where high speed internet access remains absent.
Meanwhile, New Hampshire received $50 million to connect 15,000 homes and businesses in rural areas, comprising 50 per cent of locations that lack high-speed internet access.
Furthermore, the Treasury separately gave some $6 million to more than 30 tribal governments to upgrade their internet service.