Appalachian Regional Commission Prepares Communities for Federal Broadband Money

The commission said it is helping communities prepare to apply for some of the $42.5B NTIA BEAD program.

Appalachian Regional Commission Prepares Communities for Federal Broadband Money
Screenshot of Curtis Hansen of Appalachian Regional Commission

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2022 – Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal state partnership agency in the Appalachian Mountain range, is working to improve broadband access ahead of billions in federal funding, according to its broadband program manager.

Curtis Hansen said during a Fiber for Breakfast event Wednesday that the commission is working with local leaders to help develop capacity for the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment funding that is coming from the National Telecommunication and Information Administration. The only way to make sure the money makes an impact, said Hansen, is to ensure that communities are prepared to use it.

Hansen said ARC will soon deploy an outreach program at the request of the Federal Communications Commission to help people in the region sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which helps alleviate broadband cost burden for low-income families.

Counties under the care of ARC are disproportionately poor compared to the national average, with lower connectivity to the internet. According to an Appalachian Regional Commission report, only 78 percent of households in the region have a broadband internet subscription, compared to 83 percent nationwide.

The agency was established in 1965 by an act of Congress and includes 13 states and 423 counties, which cover over 25 million people. They currently invest approximately $30 million per year for broadband grants in the area to improve broadband connection for residents.

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