by Jeniffer Solis, Nevada Current
January 27, 2023
Nevada is set to receive $55.2 million for broadband infrastructure projects that will provide internet access to thousands of residents who still lack high-quality broadband.
The funding will cover the cost of broadband infrastructure for more than 40,000 households still lacking high-speed internet access across the state.
On Thursday, the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury announced the approval of four multi-million dollar broadband projects in Alabama, Kentucky, Texas, and Nevada under the Capital Projects Fund in the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress last year. Combined, those states will have the funding to connect over 292,000 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet.
“The pandemic upended life as we knew it and exposed the stark inequity in access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet in communities across the country, including rural, Tribal, and other underrepresented communities,” said Treasury Deputy Secretary Wally Adeyemo.
In Nevada, the grant will fund high-speed broadband infrastructure in communities with multi-unit low-income housing.
The plan approved Thursday is about 41% of Nevada’s total funding allocation under the CPF program. Plans for the remainder of Nevada’s CPF funds are currently under review by the Treasury.
Internet service providers funded by the program must participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program – a $30 per month subsidy for low-income families or up to $75 per eligible household on Tribal land.
The infrastructure funding comes after three Nevada tribes were awarded $11.6 million last month for high-speed internet. That funding will directly connect more than 800 homes on tribal lands in Nevada to high-speed internet, improving access to education, jobs, and healthcare on tribal lands.
In 2021, 14% of Nevada households did not have an internet subscription and nearly 9% lived in areas where there is no reported broadband infrastructure, according to the office of Nevada Democratic U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen. Another three-quarters of the state live in an area with only one provider.
“As one of the senators who wrote the broadband section of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, I’m proud of the historic investment we secured – which is delivering sixty-five billion dollars in overall investments to make high-speed internet available AND affordable to Americans,” Rosen said in a press call Thursday.
Last year, analysts told Clark County officials that Southern Nevada is underperforming when it comes to providing internet access and affordable rates to residents.
Analysts hired by the county found that fiber-optic cables, a needed tool in broadband services, are limited to 30% of Clark County households, and “expanding fiber is critical to the county’s economic future.”
Based on limited data provided by federal agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission, analysts also “found indications that the prices for the average internet broadband plan in Clark County is quite a bit higher than the national average.”
On average, 50 megabits per second, the unit of measurement of how fast the internet is, costs $47 nationally jumping to $69 at 200 megabits per second. Analysts noted that Clark County’s average is $70 and $90 respectively, between a 30% and 50% increase.
Affordability, not just cables and infrastructure, is a major factor determining whether internet service is accessible to families in Nevada, county officials have noted. In Nevada, areas with an average income of $32,000 or less have the fewest households with internet subscriptions.
One key priority for the Capital Projects Fund program is to create reliable, affordable broadband infrastructure, according to the Treasury.
To further lower costs, the Biden administration also worked to secure commitments from 20 leading internet service providers—covering more than 80% of the U.S. population—to offer all eligible households high-speed internet plans for no more than $30 per month. The agreement also allows some eligible households to to receive internet access at no cost to them.
Households can check their eligibility and sign up at GetInternet.gov.
So far, about $4.5 billion has been awarded to 30 states through the American Rescue Plan to fund affordable, reliable high-speed internet to an estimated 1.2 million homes, businesses and local governments. The Treasury is approving additional state and Tribal plans on a rolling basis.
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