N.J. awarded more than $6M in ‘Internet for All’ planning grants

New Jersey received just over $6 million Tuesday in “Internet for All” grants from the federal government to be used for deploying high-speed internet networks and developing digital skills training programs.

In total, the state will receive $6,098,830.90 from the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration as part of funding from the Infrastructure Law. The money will be used specifically to plan for the deployment and adoption of affordable, equitable and reliable high-speed Internet service throughout the state.

All 50 U.S. states and six territories applied for planning grant funding for the Internet for All initiative’s Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment program and the Digital Equity Act program. Grant awards for all 56 eligible entities will be announced on a rolling basis.   

Gov. Phil Murphy said the state was grateful to receive a grant.

“New Jersey thanks the (President Joe) Biden administration and our congressional delegation for securing crucial funding that will dramatically expand access to affordable high-speed internet in our state,” he said. “Since the outset of my administration, I have been determined to restore and revamp our infrastructure, which includes not just roads and bridges, but the broadband that connects our residents to opportunity and each other.

“It’s comprehensive federal investments like these that will continue to make our state fairer and our communities more equitable for generations to come.”

The funds will go to the following projects:

Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program

The BEAD Program provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs. New Jersey will receive $4,922,089.90 to fund various activities, including:

  • Research and data collection, including initial identification of unserved locations and underserved locations;
  • Publications, outreach and communications support;
  • Technical assistance to potential subgrantees, including through workshops and events;
  • Surveys of unserved, underserved and underrepresented communities to better understand barriers to adoption.

Digital Equity

The Digital Equity Act provides $2.75 billion to establish three grant programs to ensure that all people and communities have the skills, technology and capacity needed to reap the full benefits of our digital economy. The first part of NTIA’s execution of the Digital Equity Act is to fund digital equity planning efforts.

New Jersey will receive $1,176,741 to fund various activities, including:

  • Closing the digital equity gap and the development of a Statewide Digital Equity Plan;
  • Staff recruitment and development;
  • Community and stakeholder engagement.

Internet for All

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable and reliable high-speed Internet access in communities across the U.S. NTIA recently launched a series of new high-speed internet grant programs funded by the law that will build high-speed internet infrastructure across the country, create more low-cost high-speed internet service options and address the digital equity and inclusion needs in our communities.

Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.

U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th Dist.), the chair of House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said the funding will have great impact.

“These days, high-speed internet is not a luxury — it’s a necessity,” he said. “Americans depend on internet access to do their jobs, run their small businesses, study for school, meet with their doctor for a telehealth visit and connect with family and friends.

“The COVID-19 pandemic made it all too clear that we must do more to bridge the digital divide and ensure every household has access to the internet. That’s exactly why I fought to include the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program and the Digital Equity Program in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This first round of funding will help New Jersey make sure residents are included in our effort to deploy broadband access equitably. I’m looking forward to working with the National Telecommunications Information Administration so that every New Jerseyan has broadband access.”

Other leaders weighed in:

  • U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.): “High-speed broadband is essential for work, school and staying connected to family and friends. Expanding broadband access helps level the technology playing field and grows our nation’s economic competitiveness. I was proud to vote for the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and I’m grateful for the partnership with federal, state and local officials to increase digital equity and access to high-speed internet in every community.”
  • U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D, 1st Dist.): “Reliable internet access is critical for our education systems, health care, small businesses and job creation. Investing in broadband infrastructure will bring economic opportunity to New Jersey, and closing the digital divide by ensuring internet access is equitable will increase the quality of life for hardworking families. I’m proud to have voted for this funding in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and look forward to improving internet access for all New Jersey families.”
  • Board of Public Utilities President Joe Fiordaliso: “I would like to thank the Biden-(Kamala) Harris administration for prioritizing broadband. These two critical grants will help us to expand high-speed internet access to thousands more New Jerseyans while ensuring digital equity. In this day and age, everyone should have high-speed internet through which they can access remote education opportunities for themselves and their children, take advantage of telehealth or work from home.  There are still far too many New Jersey residents and businesses who don’t have access to high-speed Internet and it is the Murphy administration’s goal to make sure that they do as quickly as possible.”