Alan Davidson

NTIA said today that it will make $811 million available through the Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program. The agency also announced tentative allocations to each U.S. state through the program.

As NTIA administrator Alan Davidson explained in a pre-briefing with media yesterday, “The Digital Divide isn’t just about technology. It’s about empowering individuals, leveling the playing field and ensuring that no one is left behind.”

The program was created in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and is designed to help ensure that “covered” populations will be able to benefit from the nation’s efforts to get everyone connected to broadband. Covered populations include aging individuals, veterans, members of racial or ethnic minorities, rural residents, individuals with disabilities or language barriers and others.

The funding, Davidson said, “will enable states, territories and native entities to empower individuals and communities with the tools and skills they need to benefit from access to high-speed internet service.”

The funding announced today is the first tranche that NTIA will administer in the Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program. The program has a total budget of $1.44 billion.

The total funding allocated to the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in this tranche is $760 million. An additional $8.4 million will go to American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with the funding divided equally among the four territories. In addition, $45 million is available to native entities.

State allocations are based on the relative population of the state, the relative size of covered populations residing in the state and the comparative lack of availability and adoption of broadband.

When Telecompetitor asked NTIA what was tentative about the state awards, a spokesperson’s response suggested that they are virtually final.

“They are tentative in the sense that theoretically a state or territory could decide not to apply, thus those funds would be reallocated to the other states/territories,” the spokesperson said.

California is slated to get the most funding – more than $70.2 million. The District of Columbia is slated to get the least – approximately $3.8 million.

Receipt of funding is not automatic. Each state must apply for funding, following guidelines to be released today. States will have until May 28 to apply.

Source: NTIA

The Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program is one of two key digital equity programs established in the IIJA.

The other program is the Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program, which has a budget of $1.25 billion. As NTIA Digital Equity Director Angela Thi Bennett explained in an interview with Telecompetitor last year, the competitive grant program will be administered by NTIA and is designed to “fill in gaps” left from the state grant program.

Updated with a response from an NTIA spokesperson

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