Salinas Partners with Underline for Construction of Privately Owned Open-Access Fiber Network

Digital equity is a cornerstone of the massive Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) that will funnel $48.2 billion into projects that support broadband deployment and adoption across the U.S.

The legislation is the largest investment in the nation’s history; it attempts to ensure that every American has access to reliable high-speed internet. It outlines grant programs in key areas, from regulation, oversight, and tracking of the broadband market, to tribal broadband connectivity, middle-mile infrastructure, digital inclusion, broadband affordability for low-income individuals, and funding for broadband deployment.

The largest of those programs, the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program, provides $42.5 billion for competitive grants to states supporting broadband infrastructure deployment and adoption. Through our broadband initiative, MBEP has been advocating for accurate data mapping to ensure fairness in allocation of grant dollars. Current data is self-reported by providers on a census block level; we support an approach that maps activity from actual speed tests at a household level.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is in the process of conducting outreach for stakeholders from state and local governments to industry and community leaders, and MBEP is working to secure a share of BEAD program funds to address digital access as well as adoption. Guidelines are still in process through the NTIA, and MBEP hopes to weigh in at every step to maximize digital equity in our region. Read more