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Remarks by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves at the NTIA State Broadband Leaders Network Conference


Thank you for inviting me to join you today.

I know that everyone here understands how vital connectivity is for the future of our country.

But too many families can’t afford the cost of broadband service, and too many families live in areas where they can’t access high-speed internet.

Our economy cannot fully recover unless all Americans can fully participate.

As you know, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes nearly $50 billion in funding for the Commerce Department to achieve the goal of universal, affordable, and reliable broadband.

And states are our partners in that effort. You are on the front lines of the fight to close the digital divide. You know where this money needs to go and what programs work best in your state.

Because of your previous work in connecting your residents, we are better prepared to quickly implement this legislation.

Working together, we’ll bring broadband infrastructure to every corner of our country and make service affordable for everyone.

We’ll create thousands of high-paying jobs as we build out the networks.

And we’ll improve the quality of life and economic potential of all Americans.

We’re also going to be solution oriented. And we will listen to you and give states the flexibility they need to ensure everyone can benefit.

This is a whole of government effort. I encourage you to build an infrastructure plan that incorporates not only the funding through NTIA, but all the sources of federal, state, and local funding.

These are historic investments. They should spur innovation and drive a marketplace with lower costs for higher speeds, to make your states globally competitive.

We will continue to hold events and sessions like today to ensure that our programs fund solutions that stand the test of time. We appreciate your willingness to take time out of your very busy schedules to come together today and tomorrow.

And what encourages me most about the path ahead is that our mission – expanding broadband – has broad support, even across political lines.

Universal, affordable broadband is essential to our economy, our small businesses, educating our students, and keeping Americans healthy.

Our investments in broadband will give Americans more power over their own lives – the ability to work where they choose, to study how they want, and to live in the place they love.

Please continue to work with our team at NTIA so we can help you address your concerns and the challenges you’re facing.

Let’s close the digital divide for good, strengthen our communities, and cement our future competitiveness.