Biden Budget Includes $600 Million for Rural Broadband

The money will add to the USDA’s ReConnect program.

Biden Budget Includes $600 Million for Rural Broadband
Photo of White House Budget Director Shalanda Young from March 2021 by Patrick Semansky

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2022 – President Joe Biden’s budget, unveiled Monday by White House Budget Director Shalanda Young, includes $600 million for rural broadband initiatives.

The money will add to the Agriculture Department’s nearly $2 billion ReConnect program, which provides grants and loans for builds, including in tribal areas.

The fiscal 2023 budget, which must get through Congress, also includes $25 million for rural telecommunications cooperatives to refinance loan debt from the USDA and to upgrade their broadband networks. Target speeds under the program is 100 Megabits per second download and 20 Mbps upload.

The ReConnect program has already announced nearly a billion dollars from its second round of funding, including $120 million late last year, as part of multiple rounds of disbursements. Its latest application deadline was earlier this month.

“The White House’s proposed budget makes important strides to get all Americans access to the Internet,” Eric Slee, director of government affairs at the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, said in a Monday statement.

“We stand ready to work with the administration so that community-based internet providers play an even greater role in deploying reliable, robust and evolutionary broadband – through fiber, fixed wireless or other technologies – to those who do not have it.  As the Administration implicitly recognizes, this tech-neutral approach remains the best path to achieving universal access for all Americans, no matter where they live.”

The additional money adds to existing federal funds for broadband, including the American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, which allocates $65 billion for broadband. While planning is underway to disburse money from the IIJA, some states with Covid ARPA money have already have plans for its use.

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