As we anticipate NTIA’s Broadband Equity, Access & Deployment (BEAD) Program state funding announcements later this month, it’s vital to reflect on how far we’ve come already. Public-private partnerships, like those being employed by communities and internet service providers of all shapes and sizes, have brought a never-before-seen level of vitality to connectivity efforts nationwide – not just in terms of the number of dollars committed or the number of locations served.
Many of these locations represent a family who will no longer have to drive to their nearest library, school parking lot or fast-food joint to piggyback on public Wi-Fi so their kids can do their homework or represent a small business owner who now has the connectivity they need to reach new customers for their products. Whomever it may be, the customer locations now served thanks to the momentum of these broadband projects represent a whole new world of economic, educational and social opportunity for those who need it the most.
Keeping the momentum going
Over the past year, local leaders and industry partners have come together to make extraordinary progress building out broadband networks, allocating more than $13B of American Rescue Plan Act funding.1 That teamwork has brought the benefits of broadband directly to more Americans, proving that the public-private partnership model is efficient and highly effective. With BEAD funding on the way, we should continue to stay motivated in replicating this success to expand internet access to more communities across the country.
So far, these federal dollars, in partnership with our own private investments, are helping to expand the reach of AT&T Fiber to more than 130,000 customer locations. Recent highlights include:
- Indiana: Our momentum was established in Indiana where we’ve committed to serve more than 38,000 Hoosiers across 14 counties since 2021. The most recent of these projects being in Lawrence County, Indiana, where we plan to connect more than 2,300 customer locations.
- South Carolina: We’re also working in Charleston and Greenville, South Carolina to expand access to AT&T Fiber to more than 9,000 additional customer locations. In Charleston, we’re building fiber to nearly 6,900 customer locations, and in Greenville, we’re delivering fiber to nearly 2,500 customer locations.
We’re also teaming up with local leaders in other states to combine public and private funds to expand internet access to more communities, including:
- Sedgwick County, Kansas: to connect over 10,000 customer locations
- DeSoto County, Mississippi: to connect nearly 2,400 customer locations
Doubling down with BEAD
This momentum is a product of openness and collaboration between industry and local government leaders sharing a common objective. In communities across the country, we have seen firsthand the real, significant impacts that broadband funding has when local leaders partner with industry experts to put it to efficient use.
We’re proud to be a catalyst in this national momentum and are eager to double down on our efforts and play a part in making sure it keeps moving in the right direction. As I said a few weeks ago, to translate the forthcoming BEAD dollars into benefits that our communities can feel, it will also take smart policy:
- Competitive processes welcoming broad participation from providers
- Open dialogue about the unique needs of communities
- Flexibility for providers to identify project areas that combine unserved and underserved locations to enable the most effective and efficient deployments.
Read more about our other public-private projects nationwide:
- Oldham County, Kentucky: connecting 20,000 customer locations
- Amarillo, Texas: connecting more than 22,000 households and businesses
- Louisiana parishes: connecting nearly 9,800 homes, businesses and farms in 13 Louisiana parishes
- Indiana cities and counties: connecting more than 38,000 Hoosiers in places like Boonville and Vanderburgh County
- And more, including in Guilford County, North Carolina, Dickson County, Tennessee and Pine Bluff, Arkansas
And it will take continued collaboration between the public and private sectors. With industry experience building, maintaining and repairing networks and local stakeholders’ knowledge and support, we can deliver on the goal of helping to bridge the digital divide for more Americans.