Next Century Cities Celebrates $42 Billion in Broadband Investments at the White House

By Brian Donoghue

On June 26, 2023, Deputy Director Brian Donoghue represented Next Century Cities at the White House. President Biden invited broadband experts, public interest advocates, and others to commemorate a series of historic investments in broadband infrastructure, paving the way for a more digitally inclusive future.

Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, the Biden-Harris administration allocated over $42 billion to deploy high-speed internet access across the United States via the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA). It underscores the essential nature of internet connectivity, now as vital as electricity or water. Much like President Roosevelt’s Rural Electrification Act, the overarching goal of IIJA investments, including BEAD and Digital Equity programs, is to ensure every resident can access reliable, affordable high-speed internet by the end of this decade. 

High-speed Internet remains out of reach for millions of households and small businesses. Although the Affordable Connectivity Program helps over 17 million households in need maintain their broadband subscriptions, half of eligible families are still unaware that the subsidy exists. 

The Department of Commerce announced jurisdiction-specific funding for high-speed internet infrastructure deployment, with allocations ranging from $27 million to over $3.3 billion. Each state received at least $107 million, with nineteen states receiving over $1 billion. A full breakdown of the allocations can be found here

In effect, all 50 states, DC, and territories to provide reliable, affordable high-speed internet access to every resident and small business by 2030. Federal funding is designed to promote manufacturing jobs and attract private-sector investment nationwide.

It is important to recognize the contributions of a wide array of individuals, organizations, and departments in reaching this milestone. Years of advocacy from groups including Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, Free Press, National Digital Inclusion Alliance, Next Century Cities, Open Technology Institute, Pew Charitable Trusts, Public Knowledge, SHLB, and others were instrumental in making broadband a national priority. 

Leadership and staff from the Department of Commerce and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration have done incredible work crafting programs that encourage state and local governments to tailor investments to community needs. Broadband leaders working at the state, territory, and tribal levels have been critical facilitation partners. Importantly, input from local leaders and residents remains crucial for ensuring that BEAD and Digital Equity investments have the most significant impact.

Witnessing President Biden’s announcement was a moving experience. The White House event emphasized a sentiment at the core of Next Century Cities’ work – investing in digital infrastructure is a necessary step toward a connected future. The task ahead is enormous, and local broadband leaders are the ones who will bring federal and state aspirations to fruition in communities.

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