Biden unveiled a proposed budget of $5.23 trillion for 2023, including more than $600 million to provide additional broadband funding through the ReConnect program in U.S. agricultural regions.
Commitment to ensuring every American has access to broadband will not only strengthen the rural economy, but will also create well-paying union jobs installing broadband.
In addition to $600 million for ReConnect (which provides grants and low-interest loans to cover costs associated with providing broadband in eligible rural areas), the budget includes $25 million for rural telecom cooperatives to serve their rural utilities Refinance loan debt and upgrade its network.
These proposals will eventually need to be approved by Congress, which will begin debating the document this week. It remains to be seen whether the final budget preserves Biden’s proposed broadband funding.
In any event, the proposed budget is further evidence of the administration’s commitment to expanding broadband access in the United States. The new funding request comes as the federal government finalizes the rules for the roughly $48 billion broadband grant program (which includes a total of $65 billion in broadband) funded by the government’s $2 trillion infrastructure law.
In addition to this funding, broadband has received billions of dollars in the U.S. rescue package and the 2021 omnibus appropriations bill, and Louisiana, Arkansas, Montana, and several other states are currently deploying fiber through state grants and other broadband projects.
Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) issued a statement in support of the President’s budget. Eric Slee, director of government affairs at WISPA, said: “The proposed budget from the White House makes important progress in getting all Americans online. We stand ready to work with the Those without broadband have a bigger role to play in deploying reliable, robust and evolved broadband.”