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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

$930 million injection to expand middle mile high-speed internet in 35 states, PR

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) (Kenny Holston/The New York Times)

By The Star Staff

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration has announced a $930 million allocation to expand middle mile high-speed internet infrastructure across 35 states and Puerto Rico.

Middle mile internet infrastructure carries large amounts of data over long distances, boosts network resiliency, increases competition to drive down costs, and helps connect unserved regions to the internet backbone, according to a White House statement issued Wednesday.

The grants from President Joe Biden’s Internet for All initiative will build new infrastructure that increases capacity to local networks and reduces the cost of bringing affordable and reliable high-speed internet service to unconnected households.

“In today’s economy, people need fast and reliable internet to work, go to school, have virtual meetings, and see their doctor through telemedicine. Farmers also need an internet signal to operate their farms and facilities, drive tractors, irrigate crops, apply pesticides, and implement precision agriculture technologies,” U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) said. “Sufficient broadband access and high-speed service are a necessity for businesses to compete amidst an increasingly digital world. We must continue to prioritize broadband deployment to unserved communities to ensure they are not left behind.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) noted that the award comes at a critical time for Alaska.

“I often say that Alaska sets its own terms, and this time period is a perfect example,” she said. “We now have a situation where the federal government is making an investment that could have prevented the impacts of this widespread outage. The extensive internet outage, caused by significant sea ice scouring, underscores the importance of Arctic infrastructure and redundancy. Most Americans take for granted that internet outages last hours or days, not weeks or months.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) noted that long before the pandemic, rural and urban communities across upstate New York, and especially in the North Country, have struggled with access to reliable and affordable high-speed internet.

“When I led the Bipartisan Infrastructure & Jobs Law to passage, I said it would be game changing for places like the North Country and now I am proud to deliver this major $14+ million investment to expand high-speed internet access for thousands of households, businesses and vital community anchors,” he said.

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