BATON ROUGE — The governor’s office announced Thursday that Louisiana has joined the national “Internet for All” initiative, which aims to help teach digital literacy and provide reliable internet for all.
Read the statement from the governor’s office here:
Today, Governor John Bel Edwards and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that Louisiana has signed on to participate in the “Internet for All” initiative, which will invest $65 billion to provide affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet service for everyone in America by the end of the decade.
Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and administered by the NTIA, Internet-for-All programs will build Internet infrastructure, teach digital skills, and provide the technology needed to ensure that everyone in America — including communities of color, rural communities and older Americans – have the access and skills they need to fully participate in today’s society.
“Partnering with Commerce/NTIA will enable Louisiana to achieve what we thought was impossible. We will now have the financial resources to close the digital divide in Louisiana once and for all. We are grateful to both Secretary Raimondo and Secretary Deputy Davidson of the NTIA for their leadership and partnership.Over the past few years, our Broadband Office (ConnectLa) has worked hard to align resources between federal, state, and local authorities to take full advantage of this opportunity. of historic broadband funding. We look forward to partnering with the people of Louisiana to make closing the divide a reality,” Governor Edwards said.
The Internet for All programs launched last Friday with three funding opportunity notices:
• Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program ($42.5 billion);
• Activation of the Middle Mile broadband infrastructure program ($1 billion); and,
• State Digital Equity Act Programs ($1.5 billion).
“Generations before us brought electricity to rural America and built the interstate highways,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information. “The task of our generation is to connect all Americans online. Through the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, states are joining the NTIA in this major new program to promote Internet access and adoption so that everyone in America has a chance to thrive in the modern economy.
To participate in the BEAD program, Louisiana submitted a letter of intent and planning fund budget, which will unlock $5 million in planning funds and allow states to begin creating their five-year action plan. Each state will have direct support from dedicated NTIA personnel every step of the way. Each participating state is guaranteed a minimum allocation of $100 million, with additional funding determinations based on upcoming coverage maps from the Federal Communications Commission.
Friday’s launch of the state’s Digital Equity Planning Grant program kicks off a series of Digital Equity Act milestones that will invest $1.5 billion to increase the adoption and use, such as digital literacy training, for those who need it most, including communities of color, rural communities, and older Americans. The Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure program will provide grants on a technology-neutral and competitive basis to eligible entities for the construction, improvement or acquisition of middle-mile infrastructure.