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Changes to national broadband map means more money to some states, less to others

June 22, 2023

On May 30, 2023, FCC released a broadband map that had been updated to reflect states' challenges to the availability data for more than 4 million locations throughout the U.S. Seventy-five percent of those challenges had been resolved in the new map. The new map reflected a net increase of more than one million new serviceable locations that had not appeared on the previous map. Background on the original map and SSTI’s call for states to pay attention to the map can be found here.

When the National Telecommunications and Information Administration announces its allocations for broadband funding based on the FCC map, some states will receive more money than they would have based on the older map since more broadband-needy areas showed up on the revised map. For others, the new map showed fewer broadband-needy areas, resulting in less money from NTIA.

States that had previously invested their own funds or CARES Act funds to expand broadband availability within their state may in the end have lowered their eligibility for these federal funds because they have less need.

Alaska was among the states that challenged the FCC broadband map, adding many new broadband-needy locations. Thus, the state will likely receive significantly more funding than under the original map. This new funding comes on top of a substantial amount of federal funding the state has gotten previously. In October 2023, the state's Senators announced that rural communities would receive $63 million for high-speed internet network buildout/deployment projects through U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) ReConnect Program grants.

Texas, which has almost 2.8 million Texas households and 7 million people without broadband access according to the new map, may be one of the states receiving less money than was anticipated under the old map. The state may be able to make even more progress if voters agree in November to HB 9, a bill allocating $1.5 billion to expand internet availability. The federal American Rescue Plan Act also gave $500.5 million to Texas for broadband expansion. According to the Texas Broadband Development website, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will allocate at least $100 million to Texas.

South Carolina may also receive less money based on the new map than anticipated, but their Rural Broadband Grant Program has helped the state extend its broadband reach. The state approved 18 internet service providers in 19 counties for almost $30 million In July 2022 to expand broadband availability. All these projects were scheduled to be completed by October 2022. Also, Act 142 of the South Carolina General Assembly allocated $50 million of the Coronavirus Relief Fund for South Carolina included in the CARES Act, with projects scheduled to be completed by April 2022.

Michigan, which may also receive less funding than expected, has recent programs to fall back on. The state funded the Realizing Opportunity With Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) with a $251 million allocation from the federal Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund into their Realizing Opportunity with Broadband Infrastructure Networks (ROBIN) grant program. The Michigan High-Speed Internet Office closed applications for this popular program on March 14, 2023. They had received $1.3 billion in funding requests—more than five times the available money—from more than 150 applicants.

broadband, fcc