(Monday, June 26, 2023 – Washington, D.C) – The Governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro R. Pierluisi, announced that as part of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD), the federal government allocated $334,614,151.70 for Puerto Rico.
The million-dollar allocation is in addition to an approximate $400 million in local funds to improve connectivity throughout the Island, as well as a first disbursement of $100 million of which $5 million are designated for planning efforts to develop projects that will help close Puerto Rico's digital divide.
"Puerto Rico has proven to be one of the jurisdictions with the best results and pace thanks to the various initiatives we have promoted under the Smart Island program. I thank the Biden-Harris Administration for recognizing the efforts of the Broadband program. This historic allocation represents greater access to funds that will allow us to improve the Island's critical telecommunications infrastructure, so that we will have a resilient system that will provide high-speed Internet access to all of Puerto Rico," the Governor said.
Since the Smart Island program began, and in conjunction with the municipalities, non-profit organizations, the federal government, and the support of our residents through the Connectivity Survey, nearly 100,000 locations have been identified with specific needs, such as Internet speeds of less than 25 mbs. Some locations that do not have the internet infrastructure to connect are mountainous regions or those with difficult access, among others.
The Governor added that the work to achieve this allocation began more than six months ago and has been done in conjunction with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Biden-Harris Administration.
For his part, the Executive Director of the Smart Island program, Enrique Völckers Nin, who was invited to make the announcement together with the President of the United States Joe Biden indicated that "our agenda is undoubtedly ambitious, broad, but very promising. We are completely focused on achieving Island-wide connectivity so that Puerto Ricans can have high-speed Internet.”
Under the Smart Island program, led by Völckers Nin, projects focused on reducing the digital divide in Puerto Rico have been launched, such as the investment of $50 million for the Puerto Rico WiFi Public Access program, which will allow, in its first phase, the creation of 190 public WiFi spaces in 46 municipalities of the Island. The locations were identified in conjunction with the municipalities and range from libraries, public buildings for citizen services, public squares, community centers, parks, trails, boat terminals, lookout points, marketplaces, among others.
Additionally, the federal government has recognized the outstanding implementation of the Affordable Connectivity Program in Puerto Rico. On the other hand, $30 million was allocated for Internet Resilience and Hardening, a program that will allocate funds to Internet providers on the Island to improve their infrastructure so that it will be more resilient to adverse situations. With these funds, providers will be able to acquire equipment such as electric generators, solar panels, and batteries so that, in the event of an emergency, the service can continue to be provided.
In addition, a design project will begin in the coming months with an estimated investment of more than $250 million in federal and local funds to lay fiber optic cables underground.
For additional details on the Puerto Rico Broadband Program, please visit https://www.smartisland.pr.gov.