The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has awarded Idaho planning grants totaling nearly $5 million for the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) and the Digital Equity Act programs.

The funding will be used to plan how the state will award funding to deploy high-speed Internet networks and develop digital skills training. States are required to have plans approved by NTIA before they can begin awarding funding.

The BEAD and Digital Equity programs were created in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The BEAD program has a budget of $42.45 billion and the Digital Equity program has a $2.75 billion budget. Both programs are included under the umbrella term “Internet for All.”

“I applaud Governor Brad Little and his team for their continued commitment to the Internet for All initiative,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a press release. “Connecting Idaho’s communities to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet will bridge the digital divide for rural areas, improve health outcomes, create jobs and increase educational access.”

The NTIA, part of the Department of Commerce, says that all 56 eligible entities – 50 states and six territories – have applied for planning funding under the BEAD and Digital Equity Act programs. Planning fund awards will be announced on a rolling basis.

Idaho’s BEAD planning grant includes $4,376,087.09. The funding can be used for:

  • Identification of unserved and underserved locations;  
  • Outreach to diverse stakeholders across all entities and geographies within the state;  
  • Increase capacity to implement BEAD grants and build infrastructure throughout the state;
  • Building a broadband infrastructure map for the state:
  • Asset mapping across the Eligible Entity to catalog broadband adoption, affordability, access, and deployment activities;  
  • Surveying of unserved, underserved and underrepresented communities to better understand barriers to adoption;  
  • Supporting local coordination including capacity building at the local and regional levels. 

Idaho will receive $564,706 in planning funds from the Digital Equity program that can be used for:

  • Developing a Statewide Digital Access Plan; 
  • Engaging communities and stakeholders;  
  • Collecting data and analyzing barriers to high-speed Internet adoption.

Last month, Ohio received $6,470,550.76 in planning funds — $5 million from BEAD and $1,470,550.70 from Digital Equity. Louisiana was awarded $2.941,542 — $2 million from BEAD and $941,542 from Digital Equity in late August.

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