NRECA Applauds Major Rural Broadband Milestone

ARLINGTON, Va. – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson today applauded the allocation of $42.5 billion in rural broadband funding to the states. The funding is known as the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program and was included in the bipartisan infrastructure law.

“Efforts to bridge the digital divide began nearly 25 years ago, yet millions of Americans remain sidelined and disconnected simply because of their zip code,” said Matheson. “In 2023, that’s unacceptable. Access to broadband creates new ways to live, learn and earn in rural America. These state allocations are a major milestone in the fight to finally make rural broadband a reality.”

With the state allocations now announced, states can finalize their broadband plans and launch competitive grant programs to award the funds.

More than 200 electric cooperatives are working to bring broadband to their rural communities. For many co-ops, their rural broadband deployment efforts mirror the rural electrification efforts nearly 100 years ago. The cost of building and maintaining networks in sparsely populated areas with difficult terrain has been prohibitive for many providers seeking to turn a profit.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national trade association representing nearly 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape. As local businesses built by the consumers they serve, electric cooperatives have meaningful ties to rural America and invest $12 billion annually in their communities.