US govt allocates $930m in grants for ‘Middle Mile’ connectivity


The funding will allow the deployment of over 12,000 miles of additional fibre across the country

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has announced the allocation of $930 million in government funding for fibre projects across the US.

The funding, part of the $1 billion Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program, will support projects in 35 states and Puerto Rico, allowing for the deployment of roughly 12,000 miles of fibre.

The grants range in size from $88.9 million to $2.7 million, the largest of which is the Nome to Homer Express Route in Alaska, aiming to expand the state’s fibre network to some of its most remote locations.

All funded projects are expected to be completed within five years.

“The Middle Mile program is a force multiplier in our efforts to connect everyone in America,” said Commerce Assistant Secretary Alan Davidson. “These grants will help build the foundation of networks that will in turn connect every home in the country to affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet service.”

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), written into law at the end of 2021, set aside roughly $1.2 trillion for various infrastructure projects across the country, from roads to electricity. Around $65 billion of this total was earmarked for improving broadband connectivity, including $1 billion for the Middle Mile programme.

Thus, around $70 million of the Middle Mile funding remains unallocated, with the NTIA suggesting that these funds will be made available at a later date on a rolling basis.

It is worth noting, however, as is commonplace with government subsidy programmes, the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program was hugely oversubscribed. The NTIA reportedly received 260 applications for grants, collectively seeking $7.47 billion, over seven times the available funding.

The majority of the IIJA’s broadband funding – roughly $42.5 billion – will ultimately be distributed as part of the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) programme, aiming to address broadband access in underserved areas. The allocation of this funding is expected to be announced later this month.

Is government funding going to transform broadband access for rural America? Join the operators in discussion at Connected America live in Dallas, Texas

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