Internet for All

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The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) provides $65 billion to connect all Americans to high-speed broadband internet that is affordable and reliable. Within BIL there are several programs that support broadband planning, infrastructure, and adoption. Wisconsin will administer funding under the Broadband Equity, Access & Deployment Program (BEAD) program and Digital Equity Act (DEA) programs. BIL also provides funding to the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for f​ederally administered broadband programs, as described below. 

BIL grant programs are not intended for household or individual applicants. Instead, states will lead planning and grantmaking efforts to provide funding to internet service providers which will build and provide service to households and businesses. Households that need assistance accessing the internet should visit the Broadband Consumer Resource page​. ​

Wisconsin-Administered Funding Opportunities

Internet For All: Connecting Wisconsin Kick-Off Event 

On October 25th, 2022, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) hosted an Internet For All: Connecting Wisconsin Kickoff event in Wausau, WI. The event was developed in a partnership between the PSC and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the Office of Rural Prosperity, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension, and the Educational Communications Board.

This day-long event brought together critical stakeholders in Wisconsin from state and local governments, Tribal communities, federal agencies, and industry to discuss coordination on high-speed Internet infrastructure deployment and digital equity efforts as the state prepares to implement programs from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and launch Wisconsin’s Internet for All initiative under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Connecting everyone in Wisconsin to affordable, reliable high-speed Internet service is critical to the overall success of the state, ensuring the health and well-being of residents and a strong state economy. This event provided an opportunity for us to discuss ways we can work together to efficiently and effectively utilize these dollars to achieve the highest possible level of high-speed Internet deployment and adoption.

Event Agenda

Broadband Equity, Access & Deployment Program 

​​​Total Wisconsin BEAD Funding
​Purpose 
​Who will be targeted with BEAD funding?
​Estimated
$700 million to $1.2 billon 
​Broadband
infrastructure deployment to locations lacking 25/3 Mbps

  • ​Highest priority: unserved households and businesses lacking 25/3 Mbps.
  • Next in line: underserved households and business lacking 100/20 Mbps.
  • Also eligible: community anchor institutions lacking 1 Gbps, and other digital equity and adoption activities.
The Broadband Equity, Access & Deployment (BEAD) program will provide approximately $42.5 billion nationwide in funding to build broadband infrastructure. BEAD will support the deployment of primarily fiber internet technology that provides service of 100/20 Mbps to all households and residences in Wisconsin that lack access to 25/3 Mbps service. 

Wisconsin’s allocation will be determined through a formula based on the state’s proportion of locations lacking access to broadband service, calculated using Federal Communications Commission (FCC) maps which are not yet complete. However, based on currently available data, Wisconsin could expect an allocation of perhaps $700 million to $1.2 billion under BEAD.

Estimated Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program Timeline

2022: September. Planning Begins. WBO begins development of a five-year plan and grant program. 2023: June – September. Planning Complete. State Action Plan and Grant Program Proposal completed. September – December. Initial Round of Grant Applications Opens. 20% of grant funds available. 2024: Four-Year Implementation. Additional Grant Rounds. Remaining 80% of grant funds available.

Beginning in fall 2022, the Wisconsin Broadband Office (WBO) will develop a comprehensive statewide five-year broadband implementation plan in consultation with local governments, providers, and community partners. As early as fall 2023, WBO will begin to award Wisconsin’s allocation of BEAD funding to internet service providers and other eligible entities through a series of competitive grant rounds that will continue through 2028. 

For more details, visit NTIA’s BEAD program website​.

Digital Equity Act Programs​

​​Total Wisconsin Digital Equity Funding​
​Purpose​
​What populations will be targeted with digital equity funding? 
State Planning Program:
$950,000

State Capacity Grant Program:
$24 to $30 million over 5 years

​Broadband adoption efforts for targeted communities
  • ​​​Residents of rural areas
  • Individuals of color
  • Aging individuals
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • English language learners 
  • Veterans
  • Incarcerated individuals​

The Digital Equity Act (DEA) consists of three separate planning and implementation grant programs that promote digital equity. Digital equity is the condition where all citizens have the skills, devices, and broadband service necessary to fully participate in the economy and society of Wisconsin. 

Funding will be distributed through three programs: 

  1. The State Planning Program provides funding to states based on a formula for the development of a state digital equity plan. Wisconsin’s estimated share of planning funds is approximately $950,000.
  2. The State Capacity Grant Program provides funding to states through a formula to support digital equity projects and implement each state’s digital equity plan. Wisconsin’s estimated share of capacity grant funding is approximately $24 million to $30 million over five years. 
  3. The Competitive Grant Program, administered by NTIA, will support digital equity projects nationally over a five-year period. Estimated Digital Equity Act Programs Timeline.

Estimated Digital Equity Act Programs Timeline

2022: August. State Planning. Development of State Digital Equity Plan begins. 2023: Fall. State Planning. State Digital​​ Equity Plan completed. 2024: Jan. – June. Competitive Grant Program. Applications and awards for five-year state capacity projects. After state capacity awards – application open. 2025: January. Competitive Grant Programs. Awards for four-year competitive projects.
 For more details, visit  NTIA’s DEA programs website.

Other Broadband Funding Opportunities 

The following broadband programs funded under BIL will be administered by federal agencies. 

Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program 

The Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program is a new $1 billion competitive grant program administered by NTIA to expand middle mile internet infrastructure across the country. Middle mile refers to high-capacity fiber internet lines that carry data between local networks that connect to households (“last mile”) and large-scale national networks (“backbone”). 

Applications for middle mile grant funding are closed. Grants will be awarded in spring 2023 and the program will run through 2028.

For more details, visit NTIA’s middle mile program website

ReConnect Loan and Grant Program 

The Reconnect Loan and Grant Program is an existing program administered by USDA that funds construction, equipment, and facilities for the expansion of high-speed internet access in rural areas. BIL allocated an additional $2 billion for this program. For more information on the ongoing implementation of Reconnect, visit  USDA’s ReConnect website​

Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program 

The Tribal Broadband Connectivity program is an existing program for tribal governments that supports broadband deployment, telehealth, distance learning, broadband affordability, and digital inclusion. BIL allocated an additional $2 billion for this program. For more information on the ongoing implementation of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, visit NTIA's Tribal Broadband Connectivity website​

Affordable Connectivity Program 

The Affordable Connectivity Program helps low-income families pay for internet service by providing monthly subsidies. Eligible households can receive up to $30 per month, and households in qualifying Tribal areas can receive $75 per month. Qualifying households can apply now. For more information and to apply visit PSC Affordable Co​nnectivity Program​.


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