- Florida is set to receive $1.17 billion in federal funding from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program to expand high-speed internet infrastructure across the state.
- The funding aims to expand high-speed internet infrastructure in the state, connecting residents and small businesses.
- The allocation supplements ongoing statewide projects that provide funding to local broadband infrastructure, including a recent allocation of $60 million.
Florida is set to receive an investment of $1.17 billion from the federal government as part of the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.
The funding, announced by the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration on Monday, aims to expand high-speed internet infrastructure across the state.
The federal allocation serves to enable Florida to connect residents and small businesses to high-speed internet by 2030. In addition to the BEAD program, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the implementation of various initiatives to improve internet accessibility, including the Affordable Connectivity Program, which provides eligible households with up to $30 per month off their internet bill, along with a one-time $100 credit toward a computer.
“High-speed internet is no longer a luxury – it is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school, access health care, and to stay connected with family and friends,” said Joe Biden in a statement. “Yet, more than 8.5 million households and small businesses are in areas where there is no high-speed internet infrastructure, and millions more struggle with limited or unreliable internet options.”
Formal notices of allocation will be provided to state officials on June 30, 2023. Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the state will have 180 days to submit its Initial Proposals outlining plans for utilizing the grant funds, and beginning July 1 can start submitting their proposals, and once approved, be able to access at least 20 percent of their allocated funds. Florida’s allocation is among the largest in the country, with 19 states receiving over $1 billion each.
The federal initiative supplements ongoing statewide projects that provide funding to local broadband infrastructure, including a recent allocation of $60 million through the Broadband Opportunity Program authorized by Gov. Ron DeSanits to expand internet access in unserved communities.
The state funds will support 22 projects across 19 counties and involve the installation and deployment of fiber optic cable and fixed wireless coverage to provide symmetrical download and upload speeds of 1 gigabyte per second or minimum download and upload speeds of 100/20 megabits per second. With the latest round of awards, the total investment in expanding broadband access in Florida surpasses $226 million.
The Sunshine State ranked 10th in the nation last year, up from 16th in the nation in 2021, when Florida even trailed mostly rural Nevada and telecom-challenged mountain states like Colorado and Washington. With proliferating demand for video conferencing, live streaming video, and bandwidth-intensive entertainment, internet service providers have responded by adding capacity for consumers.
Earlier this year, AT&T and BlackRock formed a joint venture called Gigapower, LLC, aimed at building out multi-gigabit fiber optic internet connections in select metro areas, including parts of Florida.
As the first occupant of the Gigapower network, AT&T said it aims to significantly increase the reach of its AT&T Fiber service. The telecom giant already holds the title of the largest fiber internet provider in the U.S. and has plans to reach more than 30 million consumer and business locations in its traditional service areas by 2025.
While AT&T already has a considerable presence in Florida, the formation of Gigapower extended its reach within Florida, particularly in regions not currently served by its service.