Treasury Has Dispensed Nearly $5B for Broadband Expansion
WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department has awarded nearly $5 billion from the Capital Projects Fund to pay for broadband expansion projects in 33 states, and expects to bestow the remaining $5 billion by the end of the year, the program’s director said on Wednesday.
Speaking at the ongoing ACA Summit at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Treasury’s Joseph Wender said the funding states have received to date should enable an additional 1.4 million U.S. households to be connected to broadband.
“Our charge is not to just award the money, but to put the money to use,” Wender told a room packed with members of America’s Communications Association, which represents independent broadband, video and communications providers.
“The good news is that there are already multiple states that have started construction,” he said.
The Capital Projects Fund was created in early 2021 as a provision of the American Rescue Plan Act. By law, the Treasury Department is responsible for doling out the funding, something it began to do in earnest last June.
Wender told the summit attendees that while states receiving funds need to abide by specific program rules, the Biden administration has no intention of dictating which and what kind of broadband projects should be undertaken.
“You identify the areas of critical need … [and] come up with your own programs,” he said.
Wender, who previously served 13 years on Capitol Hill, most recently as senior policy advisor for Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said based on his experience in public services, “I don’t think a one-size-fits-all approach works.”
All projects supported by funding from the Capital Projects Fund must be completed by the end of 2026.
Wender was one of several highly anticipated speakers who addressed attendees during the summit’s “policy” day.
Other speakers included FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr; Doug Kinkoph, associate administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration; communications policy analyst Blair Levin; and Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., who assured attendees that he is continuing to work to bring broadband to more rural areas.
“It’s a priority for me to make more headway this Congress to expand high-speed broadband and increase affordability,” the senator said.
On Thursday, many of the summit’s attendees converged on Capitol Hill to speak one-on-one and in groups to lawmakers about, among other things, funding available through the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of America’s Communications Association, which now comprises over 500 member companies.
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