Government creates Puerto Rico Broadband Program; Joins the “Internet for All” initiative – News is My Business
The government is committed to building the necessary infrastructure with the necessary funds to bridge the existing digital divide. (Credit: Siarhei Dzenisevich | Dreamstime.com)
Governor Pedro Pierluisi announced the signing of an executive order creating the Puerto Rico Broadband Program, which aims to bridge the local digital divide.
The strategy coincides with Puerto Rico’s participation in the Biden-Harris administration’s “Internet for All” initiative, which aims to connect people to reliable and affordable high-speed internet.
The $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program enables states and territories to expand broadband Internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and deployment programs. adoption.
A separate state Digital Equity Planning Grant program supports the development of digital skills training and workforce development plans. In total, President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Act, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, is funding $65 billion to ensure all Americans have access to reliable high-speed internet. and affordable.
Digital equity applications were due July 12, and all letters of intent to participate in the BEAD program were submitted by the July 18 deadline.
“Bringing affordable high-speed Internet to all of America will take a national effort. Today, U.S. and local leaders spoke as one nation committed to closing the digital divide,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information.
“Connecting America means leaving no community behind, and we’re encouraged by the bipartisan commitment to ensuring that all Americans have reliable, affordable internet service and the skills to thrive in our modern digital world,” he said. he declared.
The State’s Digital Equity Planning Grant program is the first step for states, territories and tribal nations to develop their digital equity plans, with $1.4 billion in funding available later to fund specific projects. The NTIA will announce the allocation of funds from the $60 million Equity Planning Grant Program by September 29.
Applications for initial planning funds for the BEAD program are due August 15, 2022.
Puerto Rico received $2.265 billion in infrastructure investment and employment to expand broadband on the island. Executive Order 2022-040 creates the Puerto Rico Broadband Program which will incorporate a comprehensive strategic plan.
“The Government of Puerto Rico recognizes the importance of broadband in the economic development of the island and its municipalities, for which it considers it essential to develop a short, medium and long-term plan to guarantee the access to this service to all citizens”, says Pierluisi.
To this end, the government has pledged to build the necessary infrastructure with the necessary funds to bridge the existing digital divide. The Office of Management and Budget (OGP, in Spanish) was required to “coordinate, authorize, and execute the disbursement of local and federal funds appropriated to Puerto Rico.”
The broadband program will be led by an advisory board that includes Enrique Völckers-Nin, deputy government secretary for innovation and technology; Nannette Martínez, Acting Director of Puerto Rico Innovation and Technology Services (PRITS); and three representatives with decision-making authority from the Office of Telecommunications, OGP and the Treasury Department.
This program will make funds available to the private sector and guides and processes will be published on a website.
The Advisory Board will also draw on the government and public administration expertise of the Tax Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF, in Spanish), the Office of Permit Management (OGPe, in Spanish ), the Highways and Transportation Authority, the Federation of Mayors, the Association of Mayors and the Puerto Rican Telecommunications Alliance.
The Advisory Council will be responsible for coordinating with the agencies defined in the Strategic Plan the terms and conditions, as well as the contracts, guidelines and documents with which all applicants and recipients of funds must comply.
In addition, he will recommend to the governor the distribution of funds among programs and initiatives, promote collaborative agreements with federal and local entities, and report any irregularities detected in the use of funds to the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Department. Treasury and other relevant agencies.