How much will each state receive in broadband funding from the $1T infrastructure bill?

On Monday, Joe Biden signed the $1T infrastructure bill, the largest bill of its type since the Stimulus Package in 2009. Included within it is $65 billion dedicated to broadband. Some of the $65 billion will go to pay for Internet in low-income households. The vast majority of it, some $42.45 billion, is headed to the states for broadband projects. 

Where exactly is that money going? The map below estimates how much each state will get according to the formula provided in the infrastructure bill.

The estimates in the map depend on the December 2020 area table data provided by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) through Form 477 data. 

The infrastructure bill specifies that the Department of Commerce divide the money: 

  1. $100 million will be given to each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. 
  2. $100 million will be divided equally among the US Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. 
  3. The remaining $37.2 billion will be divided among the 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico according to the FCC’s tally and new maps of unserved households in each state. 

The estimates are subject to change since the actual allocation of funds will depend on a new set of maps that the FCC is developing. It is a well known problem that the FCC’s current maps based on Form 477 data have their biases. There is controversy over the way areas are determined to be either served or unserved. But this bias might not mean all that much in the aggregate level of state funding.

Economist George Ford recently corrected for biases using newly released map data from the state of Georgia to better estimate the number of locations without broadband. In a released paper on the topic, Ford explained, “At the total state level, the error in the [broadband] availability is small (3.5 percentage points), but at the census block level...the Form 477 data may both over- and under-state availability.” 

In other words, the new maps are not likely to change the amount of funds each state receives(all that much).

CGO scholars and fellows frequently comment on a variety of topics for the popular press. The views expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Growth and Opportunity or the views of Utah State University.

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