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Washington receives $1.2 billion in funding for improved internet connectivity

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(The Center Square) – Rural Washington residents will soon get to see how much faster $1.2 billion in federal funding makes their pages load when browsing the World Wide Web.

An outgrowth of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the funding comes from recently established Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Act, or BEAD. In total it provides $42.45 billion in funding nationwide as part of the Biden administration’s Internet for All initiative.

“In 2023, affordable high-speed internet is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. With this historic $1.2 billion investment we are going to create good paying jobs and ensure every Washingtonian can unlock the internet’s full potential,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo when announcing the funding.

Administered federally through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the funding is meant to bring broadband access to areas in the United States and corresponding territories that remain without high-speed broadband in our digital age.

“I’m thrilled to see the federal government stepping up to invest in the work we’ve been doing for years to expand equitable access to high-speed internet,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee in a statement accompanying the announcement.

Within the state, the funding will be administered by the Washington State Department of Commerce and disbursed through the Washington State Broadband Office, which already has a website dedicated to the Internet For All initiative.

“Telecommunications technology relieves the tyranny of distance by connecting people. Bridging the digital divide is about more than providing fiber optic lines or wireless infrastructure. It’s about bringing communities together” said director of Washington’s State Broadband Office Mark Vasconi.

On the federal level, Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray were both instrumental in advocating for the bipartisan bill that funded the program.

“The COVID pandemic laid bare just how crucial fast and affordable internet access is for all Washingtonians. But for more than a quarter of a million households in the State of Washington, broadband remains inaccessible,” said Cantwell in a statement issued by her office.

Senator Murray called the record $1.2 billion investment “badly needed” and “nothing short of transformative.”

Washington state residents interested in how the program applies to them can find additional details on the Washington State Department of Commerce website.

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