Treasury Final Rule Expands Permitted Use of ARPA Funds for Broadband
The U.S. Treasury Department has issued its Final Rule regarding the use of Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) established under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The Final Rule significantly expands ARPA recipients’ flexibility to use the funds for broadband infrastructure projects.
Under the Interim Final Rule, eligible broadband infrastructure investments were limited to projects “designed to provide service to unserved or underserved households or businesses, defined as those that lack access to a wireline connection capable of reliably delivering at least minimum speeds of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload.”
The Final Rule entirely abandons the “unserved or underserved” requirement. “The final rule expands eligible areas for investment by requiring recipients to invest in projects designed to provide service to households and businesses with an identified need for additional broadband infrastructure investment, which would include but not be limited to a lack of broadband service reliably delivering certain speeds.” (at 296, emphasis added). In addition, “examples of need include lack of access to a connection that reliably meets or exceeds symmetrical 100 Mbps download and upload speeds, lack of affordable access to broadband service, or lack of reliable broadband service.”