The U.S. Department of the Treasury has allocated $10 billion in grant funding nationwide, with Mississippi receiving $151.4 million to expand broadband service. The primary objective of this funding is to enhance broadband access throughout the state, mainly targeting approximately 35,000 households currently without access to high-speed internet.

The Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi (BEAM) office will be responsible for disbursing the funds through a competitive grant program designed for internet service providers. The state plan, as the Treasury Department outlines, aims to support the development of additional broadband infrastructure that can deliver more reliable internet services to residents, ensuring a minimum download and upload speed of 100 megabits per second (Mbps). This level of speed is crucial for homes with multiple internet users.

Recipients of the grant funds will be obligated to participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The ACP guarantees that residents can afford broadband services through a monthly discount of up to $30. The FCC estimates that around 48 million families, or 40% of the population, will be eligible for this discount.

The grant program will encompass three categories for fund distribution:

Broadband Infrastructure ($116.4 million)

Awards in this category will finance large-scale projects to serve a significant number of designated addresses. Category 1 recipients must provide a minimum matching fund of 20%.

Line Extension & Deployment ($20 million)

Grants in this category will facilitate the expansion of existing networks, focusing on quick construction and providing download speeds of at least 100Mbps and upload speeds of 20Mbps. Category 2 recipients will be required to contribute a match of at least $500 per address.

ARPA Broadband Communities ($15 million)

This category promotes partnerships between public and private entities, necessitating service providers to collaborate with counties, municipalities, or affiliated organizations that allocate a portion of their American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds or other public funding to the project. Category 3 awardees must match at least 50% of the grant amount, with only a portion of the match needing to come from the public entity’s ARPA funds.

To remain compliant with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, all funding must be allocated and projects completed by December 31, 2026.