|For Immediate Release:
|Contact: Tracy Munford
TRENTON, NJ – The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) is advancing the Murphy Administration’s priority to ensure high-speed internet access for all of New Jersey and is seeking public comment on draft plans for two major broadband initiatives: the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Grant Program and the State’s Digital Equity Plan.
“High-speed internet access has proven to be an essential service that helps deliver educational, professional, and social services and opportunities to thousands of New Jersey residents and businesses daily,” said Christine Guhl-Sadovy, President of the NJBPU. “Ensuring residents, community organizations and businesses engage in how we shape our BEAD and Digital Equity programs is essential to their success. I encourage the public, particularly unserved and underserved communities, to participate in this important opportunity to comment on our plans.”
The BEAD and Digital Equity Programs are administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) within the U.S. Department of Commerce. NTIA has delegated primary administration and implementation to states and other eligible entities. Established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, BEAD and Digital Equity are part of the larger Biden Administration Internet for All initiative, designed to reach all unserved and underserved locations across the country, with a focus on equity.
Earlier this year, New Jersey was awarded $263,689,548.65 for its BEAD program by NTIA. New Jersey’s draft BEAD Initial Proposal Volumes 1 and 2 are largely focused on how to deploy BEAD funding to expand broadband access, with a focus on the State’s unserved/underserved locations challenge process. Once finalized, the draft Initial Proposal will be submitted to NTIA for further review. Public comment is also being accepted for the State’s draft Digital Equity Plan.
The deadline for public comment on the draft BEAD Initial Proposal Volume 1 is 5 pm Wednesday, November 29, 2023.
The deadline for public comment on the draft BEAD Initial Proposal Volume 2 is 5 pm Friday, December 8, 2023.
The draft documents and directions for submitting comments can be found here: https://www.nj.gov/connect/grants/bead/.
The Digital Equity Plan, which is part of the Digital Equity Act, (DEA) is focused on marginalized communities with a goal to support economic and workforce development, educational, health and civic and social engagement outcomes. The DEA established three main grant programs: 1) State Digital Equity Planning Grant, 2) the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program for implementing State Digital Equity Plans and 3) the Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program for private sector, public sector, and not-for-profit entities to advance digital equity and engage in digital inclusion activities. The deadline for comment on the State’s draft Digital Equity Plan is 5 pm Thursday, November 30. To download a copy of the draft and submit comments, visit https://www.nj.gov/connect/grants/digital-equity.
For more information about The NJBPU Office of Broadband Connectivity and the State’s plans to ensure Internet for All, visit www.nj.gov/connect.
About the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU)
NJBPU is a state agency and regulatory authority mandated to ensure safe, adequate and proper utility services at reasonable rates for New Jersey customers. Critical services regulated by NJBPU include natural gas, electricity, water, wastewater, telecommunications and cable television. The Board has general oversight and responsibility for monitoring utility service, responding to consumer complaints, and investigating utility accidents. To find out more about NJBPU, visit our website at www.nj.gov/bpu.