Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Biden administration approves Louisiana’s ‘Internet for All’ proposal

by BIZ Magazine
man holding tablet computer

Gov. John Bel Edwards was joined Friday by Congressman Troy Carter and other officials as he and the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that the NTIA has approved Louisiana’s Initial Proposal for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, a cornerstone of the Biden-Harris Administration’s “Internet for All” initiative. Louisiana is the first state to reach this important milestone and may now request access to 20% or more of the $1,355,554,552.94 that NTIA allocated to the state.

“I want to thank the Biden Harris administration for ushering in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that made this possible along with Senator Bill Cassidy and Congressman Troy Carter,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. Today’s announcement is a testament to the sense of urgency that my administration has worked to ensure that high speed internet is not only accessible but reliable for every single Louisianan. Our plan stresses resilience, connectivity and affordability, and we will implement it as submitted with shovel ready projects set to begin next year. Not only that, but our partnership with the Louisiana Community and Technical College System will make certain we develop a very strong, skilled and credentialed workforce for the infrastructure jobs that are to come.”

“This is a is a monumental achievement that emphasizes Louisiana’s commitment to equity in internet usage. Being the first state authorized to request access to BEAD funds, we are leading the way in closing the digital divide, ensuring that every citizen has affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband access,” said Rep. Carter. “By prioritizing the internet as an essential tool for communication, Louisiana sets an example for other states in utilizing BEAD funds to bridge technological disparities, creating a more inclusive and connected society.”

“In a 21st-century economy, Americans simply cannot afford to live without a high-speed Internet connection,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “Today, Louisiana took a major step towards ensuring that no one in the state is held back by a lack of access to high-speed Internet. I congratulate Governor Edwards and the team at ConnectLA for making this happen for Louisiana’s workers, businesses, communities and families.”

The BEAD program is a $42.45 billion state grant program authorized by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. States and territories will use the funding to deploy or upgrade broadband networks to ensure that everyone has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed internet service. Once deployment goals are met, any remaining funding can be used on broadband adoption, training and workforce development efforts, among other eligible uses.

“The Internet is the essential tool for communication in today’s world. Today, Louisiana is one step closer to delivering affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet service to all,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson. “I salute the ConnectLA team for developing a sophisticated and high-quality plan focused on creating jobs and building resilient networks that will serve the state for years to come.”

Louisiana expects to conclude its BEAD challenge process in December. With its initial proposal approved, the state may request to commence the selection of subgrantees. One year from initial proposal approval, Louisiana must submit a final proposal that details, among other things, the outcome of the subgrantee selection process and how the state will ensure service to all unserved and underserved locations.

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