The New America Foundation and a coalition of 38 other groups on Monday submitted comments regarding grant programs of the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce.
The comments specifically addressed the Broadband Initiatives Program of the Rural Utilities Service, Department of Agriculture, and the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Department of Commerce.
NAF commended both RUS and NTIA for their successful implementation of the broadband-related programs described in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009.
NAF said that it recognized that the efforts of these organizations has not only inspired public discourse, but begun to stimulate job creation and long-term economic growth.
"The level of consensus among such a diverse array of public interest organizations is indicative of the need for fundamental changes to the NTIA application process," explained Sascha Meinrath, director of the Open Technology Initiative. "We are calling for stronger focus on holistic broadband interventions tailored to the specific needs of local constituencies and the prioritization of far more innovative approaches to digital excellence during this final round of broadband stimulus funding."
In an effort to increase the effectiveness of these organizations, NAF offered more than two dozen recommendations, “emphasizing national and societal over the gain of individual applicants.” NAF said it believed that BTOP/BIP grants should target organizations and facilities with established community connections. They encouraged not only broad, cooperative projects, but also smaller, specialized projects as well as suggestions to improve middle-mile deployment.
Key recommendations included:
- Make the entire application public and available online.
- Prioritize Middle Mile ‘‘Comprehensive Community’’ projects
- Allocate a portion of the remaining funds available under the BIP and BTOP programs to promote a regional economic development approach to broadband deployment.
- Establish a Tribal Priority for those Tribal Entities seeking to serve their own Tribal lands.
- Set aside $50 million for a small grants program consistent with the goals of BTOP.
- Target regions with high unemployment rates for funding, though alternative measures of labor underutilization as a more accurate metric of economic hardship.
- Make public the content of all service area challenges and require challengers demonstrate that currently available broadband is based on actual speeds that are independently verifiable.
- Maintain the requirement that any network funded under the BTOP be open and nondiscriminatory and interconnect with other networks.
"The broadband stimulus program has inspired visionary new thinking on the important role of broadband in our communities," stated OTI Senior Field Analyst, Joshua Breitbart. "The coalition's comments highlight the best thinking on these issues from a broad range of practitioners and advocates."
- Federal Communications Commission Proposal for Unlicensed Spectrum in 6 GHz Band Widely-Praised
- Coronavirus Roundup: Speedy FCC Web Meeting, NCTA Broadband Dashboard, GEO’s New Mapping Tool
- Although Privacy is on a Back Burner, California May Outdo Its Own State Law in November
- Speaking to Utah Entrepreneurs, Sen. Romney Emphasizes Communication and Says, ‘We Have to Stop Looking Like Italy’
- Coronavirus Roundup: Fighting Against the Homework Gap, No Fixed Data Caps in U.K., Gigabit Libraries on Role in Pandemic
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
China1 month ago
Tech Officials Diagnose Excessive Trump Actions as Product of ‘Huawei Derangement Syndrome’
Health4 weeks ago
Battling Coronavirus COVID-19, Broadband Could Provide Relief Although Telemedicine May Not Help
Section 2301 month ago
Attorney General Bill Barr Calls for ‘Recalibrated’ Section 230 as Justice Department Hosts Tech Immunity Workshop
Health2 weeks ago
Broadband Breakfast Live Online Will Stream Daily in March on ‘Broadband and the Coronavirus’
Net Neutrality1 month ago
FCC Seeks Comment on Net Neutrality Issues Remanded by Appeals Court: Public Safety, Pole Attachments and Lifeline
Artificial Intelligence1 month ago
U.S. Progress on AI and Quantum Computing Will Best China, Says CTO Michael Kratsios
Asia1 month ago
Broadband Roundup: Global Internet Censorship, Tribal Divide, Klobuchar on the Broadband Stump
Broadband Mapping & Data1 month ago
Poor Broadband Maps and Lack of a Consolidated Voice Hinder Advocacy for Better Rural Internet