Broadband

Access to fast, reliable broadband is critical to households, businesses, and communities in the modern economy. The ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency has underscored the necessity of broadband access for critical services like distance learning, remote work, telehealth, and commerce.

NGA Resources

Governor Strategies to Expand Affordable Broadband Access

Governor Strategies to Expand Affordable Broadband Access

Access to high quality, affordable broadband unlocks access to commerce, remote work opportunities, remote and improved education, telehealth, intelligent agriculture, and more. (View/Download) Key Points Increasing access to the internet ...
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Solutions for Rural Economies in Response to COVID-19

Solutions for Rural Economies in Response to COVID-19

Summary Times of crisis often exacerbate the economic challenges faced by rural communities. Following the Great Recession, for example, unemployment in rural areas rose by 6 percent, and rates of ...
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Delivering Workforce System Employment and Training Services Remotely

Delivering Workforce System Employment and Training Services Remotely

Summary Across the United States, American Job Centers (AJCs) provide a range of assistance to jobseekers, students, and businesses. Due to COVID-19, they have had to readjust their delivery methods ...
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Supporting K12 and Postsecondary Virtual Learning Environments

This memo analyzes the need to expand access to and support around virtual learning methods as educational institutions move to online instruction. As schools, colleges, and universities across the country ...
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State and Local Coalition Calls for Federal Broadband Investment

State and Local Coalition Calls for Federal Broadband Investment

A coalition of organizations representing state and local governments released the following statement in response to hearings on the FY 2021 Budget Request for Federal Communication Commission before the Senate ...
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Featured Videos

Governors Discuss Broadband Access And Education


In this 2020 Winter Meeting session Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Colorado Governor Jared Polis lead a discussion on the importance of reliable broadband access for all areas of their states to support education and economic development.


NGA Webinar on Broadband Deployment: U.S. Department Of Agriculture’s Rural Programs


This webinar features a presentation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on rural broadband deployment programs and resources.  The webinar focuses on these programs’ relevancy to governors’ offices, share best practices, and offer actions governors can consider to support program applications in their state.

Broadband Federal Funding Programs

The federal government administers several programs through various agencies to fund investment in broadband infrastructure, equipment, access, and affordability. The table below includes programs that were created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and previously-existing programs administered annually.

This resource covers federal funding grant programs that have a discreet allocation of funding and are distributed to state and local governments, the private sector, anchor and healthcare institutions, and directly to the public. Additional federal support may be provided as an eligible reimbursement within other programs and formula funding sources – for a complete list of all federal sources for which broadband is an eligible expense, please see this resource compiled by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (note: NTIA is currently updating their database – this link will be updated to the new searchable database as soon as that work is complete).

Terms/Abbreviations
Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security ActCARES Act
Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations ActCRRSA
Federal Communications CommissionFCC
Internet Service ProviderISP
National Telecommunications and Information AdministrationNTIA
Rural Utilities ServiceRUS
U.S. Department of AgricultureUSDA
U.S. Department of CommerceCommerce
U.S. Department of EducationEducation
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban DevelopmentHUD
U.S. Department of the TreasuryTreasury
Universal Service FundUSF

Updated: 8 Jun 2021 | Download

Agency / BranchProgram NameProgram DescriptionTotal FundingIndividual Funding AwardsEligible RecipientsProgram TypeSpending Deadline
USDA – RUSReconnect Loan and GrantProvides loans and grants to cover broadband construction costs in eligible rural areas$635 million (FY2021)
$100 million (CARES)
Loan up to $50 million, with 2 percent interest. Combo loan/grant $25 million each. Grants available up to $25 million with a 25 percent matchState/Local, TribeExisting Program with additional COVID-related fundingProgram renewed annually
USDA – RUSDistance Learning and TelemedicineHelps remote learning and telehealth telecommunications needs in rural areas$57 million (FY2021)
$25 million (CARES)
Grants are awarded with a 15 percent match requirement. Awards range from $50,000 to $1 millionState/Local, K-12, Higher Ed, Tribe, Library, HospitalExisting Program with additional COVID-related fundingProgram renewed annually
USDA – RUSTelecommunications Infrastructure Loans and Loan GuaranteesProvides financing support to expand telephone and broadband access in rural areas with fewer than 5,000 people$690 million (FY2021)Cost-of-Money loans available directly, as well as loan guarantees to private lenders to connect local borrowersState/Local, TribeExisting ProgramApplications accepted year-round
FCC - USFConnect America Fund – High CostThe program funds broadband service in unserved and underserved areas by funding ISP connection plans$4.5 billion (FY2020)103 bidders are splitting the awards to serve more than 700,000 locations in 45 statesISPsExisting ProgramNA - not for states
FCC – USFLifeline – Low IncomeAssists low income individuals to help pay phone and connections charges$2.385 billion (FY2020)Allocates $9.25 per household in broadband support per monthConsumer DirectExisting ProgramNA - not for states
FCC – USFSchools and Libraries – E-RateEligible schools and libraries receive discounts on costs of telecommunications services$4.15 billion (FY2019) $7.2 billion (ARP)Discounts range from 20 to 90 percent, based on the poverty level of the school, with rural schools and libraries potentially receiving higher discountsK-12, LibraryExisting Program with additional COVID-related fundingNA - not for states
FCC – USFRural Health CareReduces costs for rural health care providers to make telecommunication services more competitive with urban provider costs$605 million (FY2020) $200 million (CARES)Eligible providers may receive a 65 percent flat discount on telecommunications servicesRural health care providers, including schools, community care centers, local health depts; full eligibity details in link. Existing Program with additional COVID-related fundingNA - not for states
FCCRural Digital Opportunity FundTargets completely unserved areas to be followed by partially served areas by funding ISP broadband deployment in eligible census blocks$20.4 billion over 10 yearsThe first auction to award up to $16 billion for unserved areas was held in October 2020ISPsExisting ProgramNA - not for states
FCC5G Fund for Rural AmericaDeploying 5G services to eligible rural communities$9 billionCurrently seeking public comment on how to distribute project fundsISPsExisting ProgramNA - not for states
FCCSecure and Trusted Communications Reimbursement ProgramRequires ISPS to "Rip and Replace" covered equipment and services to secure the network. Any funding recipient must remove and replace covered equipment and services. $1.6 billionProgram will reimburse costs reasonably incurred for the removeal, replacement, and disposal of covered equipment.ISPs with 10 million or fewer customersNewly Created ProgramNA - not for states
FCCCOVID-19 Telehealth ProgramProvides immediate support to eligible health care providers by funding telecommunications services, information services, and connected devices. $200 million (CARES) $249.95 million (CRRSA)The first round of funding supported over 500 health care facilities. Applications for the second round will be due on May 6th and opening April 26th.Health Care ProvidersNew COVID ProgramClosed May 6, 2021
FCCEmergency Broadband BenefitProvides discounts to eligible low-income families on broadband services$3.2 billion (CRRSA)Eligible families may receive up to $50 per month, $75 per month on Tribal lands, and a one-time discount of $100 on a computer or tablet.Individual FamiliesNew COVID ProgramNA - not for states
FCCEmergency Connectivity FundProvides funding to schools and libraries for laptops, Wi-Fi hotspots or other internet devices.$7.17 billion (ARP)Reimburses 100% of the costs to purchase eligible internet equipment for a school or library.Libraries and SchoolsNew COVID ProgramNA - not for states
NTIATribal Broadband Connectivity GrantsProgram to expand broadband deployment on Tribal lands, targeted at telehealth, remote learning, affordability, and digital inclusion$1 billion (CRRSA)Tribal governments and other eligible entities can apply for funding, with grant awards between $50,000 and $50 million.TribeNew COVID ProgramApply by September 1, 2021
NTIABroadband Infrastructure Deployment GrantsProgram to promote partnerships for state subdivisions and fixed broadband service providers, targeted at rural areas.$300 million (CRRSA)Awards to be made between $5 million and $30 million. There is no cost sharing requirement and projects need to be implemented within one year.Partnerships between a state, or one or more political subdivisions of a state and providers of fixed broadband service. ETC designation is not required.New COVID ProgramApply by August 17, 2021
NTIAConnecting Minority Communities Pilot ProgramGrant program targeted at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions to purchase internet equipment or hire IT personnel.$285 million (CRRSA)This program provides grants directly to students to pay for internet services or equipment.SchoolsNew COVID ProgramNA
EducationElementary and Secondary Relief FundK-12 emergency funding to respond to COVID crisis growing need for remote learning$13.2 billion (CARES) $54.3 billion (CRRSA) $122 billion (ARP)States are awarded funds in proportion to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)StateNew COVID ProgramCARES funding available for obligation through September 2021, CRRSA funding available for obligation through September 2022, ARP funding available for obligation through September 2023
EducationHigher Education Emergency Relief FundReimburses students and teachers for technology needs$14.25 billion (CARES) $21.2 billion (CRRSA)The funds will be awarded to higher education institutions on a formula outlined by CongressSchools, StudentsNew COVID ProgramCARES funding available for obligation through September 2022, CRRSA funding available for obligation through September 2023
EducationGovernor’s Emergency Relief FundBlock grants for educational entities most impacted by COVID. The grants are largely flexible to cover current student and school needs.$3 billion (CARES) $4.053 billion (CRRSA)Funds are awarded to Governors’ offices 60 percent based on relative school-aged population and 40 percent based on children counted under ESEAStateNew COVID ProgramCARES funding available for obligation through September 2022, CRRSA funding available for obligation through September 2023
EducationTitle I, Part AProvides financial assistance to schools with high percentages of low-income students.$16.31 billion (FY2020)States are awarded funds on a formula basisStateExisting ProgramRenewed annually
EducationTitle IV, Part AImproves technology accessibility and digital literacy for all students$1.21 billion (FY2020)States are awarded funds on a formula basisStateExisting ProgramRenewed annually
HUDCommunity Development Block GrantsBlock grants are provided annually on a formula to states for primarily low- and moderate-income assistance projects. Funds may be used to install broadband infrastructure to benefit eligible communities.$3.4 billion (FY2020) $5 billion (CARES)While funds are not exclusively focused on broadband infrastructure, states may flexibly allocate funding toward broadband. West Virginia has utilized these funds toward broadband expansion.StateExisting Program with additional COVID-related fundingAlso see FAQs
TreasuryCapital Projects FundFunding will assist governments to carry out capital projects that directly enable work, education, and health monitoring, including remote options.$10 billion (ARP)Additional guidance to come, applications will be accepted during the summer of 2021.States/Local, TribeNew COVID ProgramFunds available in Summer 2021, no deadline known
TreasuryCoronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery FundThe ARP provided flexible funding to states to aid economic impacts, with one investment use to be in broadband infrastructure.$350 billion (ARP) $195 billion going to statesAdditional guidance to comeStates/Local, TribeNew COVID ProgramAvailable one year after pandemic declared over
TreasuryHomeowner Assistance FundTo be distributed to states, territories, and local governments by the Treasury Department, which includes payment for broadband services as one of the several qualified expenses eligible for relief.$10 billion (ARP)Additional guidance to comeState/Local, TribeNew COVID ProgramFunds request deadline was April 25, 2021.
CommerceEconomic Development Administration GrantsDistribute under the Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance programs, of which include broadband projects as an eligible expense for economically distressed communities.$1.5 billion (CARES) $3 billion (ARP)Applicants will be awarded on an ongoing basis until a new award is published or all funds have been expendedState/Local, TribeExisting Program with additional COVID-related fundingApplications accepted until funds have been expended
Delta Regional AuthorityDelta Regional AuthorityProvides direct investment into community based projects, 75 percent of which must go to economically distressed counties and parishes. Half of these funds must be allocated to basic public infrastructure which includes broadband.$12.35 million (FY2020)States receive formula balance to be designated for eligible projects meeting program criteria.8 states in Delta regionExisting ProgramProgram renewed annually. Current applications due June 6 to local development districts.
Delta Regional AuthorityCommunity Infrastructure FundTargets physical infrastucture projects to build more resilient communities in the region. Investments include basic public infrastructure development such as broadband.$15 million (FY2020)States receive formula balance to be designated for eligible projects meeting program criteria.8 states in Delta regionExisting ProgramProgram renewed annually
Appalachian Regional CommissionArea Development ProgramMakes investments in critical infrastructure and business and workforce development. Broadband is a prioirity investment area withing the critical infrastrucutre investments.$40,945 million (FY2020)Applicants should reach out to state grant managers. Matches are required and vary by counties' economic status.13 States in Appalachian RegionExisting ProgramProgram renewed annually