WASHINGTON, March 9, 2009 – Soon to be released FCC data will help balance the interests of public need for expanded networks and industry needs for financial incentives while implementing the goals of the Obama broadband stimulus package, a triumvirate of telecommunications experts said during a Monday conference call, less than 24 hours from NTIA’s release of broadband grant criteria.
The group was headlined by by former Rep. Charles “Chip” Pickering, R-Miss., who was joined by Free Press policy director Ben Scott and Markham Erickson of the Open Internet Coalition. The trio spoke in advance of Tuesday’s joint FCC-NTIA-RUS stimulus kick-off meeting, which begins at 10:00 am at the Department of Commerce.
While each represented a different perspective on broadband issues, all agreed that fully achieving the short and long term goals of the stimulus package requires a careful balance between public interests and private market incentives.
Tuesday’s meeting is the beginning of “an extraordinary period, in which the government is investing in broadband infrastructure,” Scott said. Scott compared the broadband stimulus program to previous public investments in highways and electrification. But Scott was clear to emphasize money alone won’t solve the nation’s broadband infrastructure problems. “It all hinges on getting the policy right,” he said, invoking President Obama’s inaugural address: “It’s about government that works.”
Scott outlined three goals for the stimulus program in order to ensure its success: The program must be “data driven” to give priority to projects that give taxpayers “the biggest bang for the buck.” This will require all available government resources, Scott said.
Scott specifically referred to an FCC-commissioned study on broadband availability to be released March 16. The new data, which replaces an old set that measured availablity by ZIP code, will allow the FCC to link broadband information to census bureau data, Scott said. This link will allow the government to direct money to “truly unserved and underserved areas,” Scott said.
Grant applicants must make the case that they are providing “future-proof” service to eligible areas, Scott added. Among the idea he proposed for this goal were minimum speed requirements and disclosure of business plans to ensure grantees can provide both affordable rates, and a cost model showing effective use of taxpayer dollars. The network must not become obsolete, Scott emphasized: “If we’re building a rural network, we have to make sure we’re not recreating a digital divide.”
And grantees must recognize the public sector as a partner, Scott said. Grant applicants should take into account benefits to schools, libraries and public safety in designing their programs, he said.
And stimulus funding shouldn’t stop with build-out, he said. The program could easily use stimulus dollars to help fund the proposed expansion of Universal Service Fund Life Line and Link Up programs, he suggested.
Open Internet’s Markham said he was “thrilled” that Congress mandated compliance with the FCC’s Internet Policy Statement neutrality principles. The network “must be open to all speech and commerce,” he said — a “common sense” principle that has allowed the Internet to feed job growth for over a decade.
The “exciting opportunity” presented by the stimulus should be targeted not only to fill gaps in the network, but to fund economically and commercially viable entities that will be “sustainable for the long term,” said Pickering, who represented a rural district in Mississippi and was an active member of the House Telecommunications subcommittee.
And while public-private partnerships “maximize the leverage” of stimulus funding, Pickering cautioned that the public funding process should be transparent. A well-implemented NTIA program “can give the country addditional investment growth…and the opportunity to see a more vibrant marketplace,” he said. “Matching public interest and a private investment, free market model are not mutually exclusive.”
State Broadband Offices Need to Increase Their Capacity, Improve Data, and Communicate Well
NTIA’s Evan Feinman spoke about what states need to keep in mind as they prepare for BEAD funds.
WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration webinar event on Tuesday focused on the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Notice of Funding Opportunity. The webinar highlighted three important items to keep in mind as states begin to receive money for broadband planning.
The first, according to Evan Feinman, deputy associate administrator for BEAD, was for states to consider your office’s capacity. Each state will receive a minimum of $100 million. Very few states have the human resources required to adequately run a program of this magnitude, he said.
The second is to build up research and data collections of broadband coverage at a state level. The Federal Communications Commission will soon release a new mapping system. It will be necessary, said Feinman, to “engage meaningfully” with these maps using state’s own research and data. Furthermore, states should have the necessary data to engage with internet service providers and the NTIA as they determine who is served and unserved.
Third, states should develop a clear-cut plan for outreach and communication support with stakeholders. Stakeholders include telecom providers, tribal governments, local governments, and community organizations.
The planning step is a great point for stakeholders to become involved in the process, said Feinman. “There is an expectation that lives throughout this program that folks are going to engage really thoroughly and in an outgoing way with their stakeholders.”
See other articles on the NTIA webinars issues in the wake of the Notices of Funding Opportunity on the Broadband.Money community:
Treasury Department Joins FCC, USDA and NTIA in Collaborating on Broadband Funding
Agency leaders sign pact to formalize information-sharing on broadband deployment projects.
WASHINGTON, May 13, 2022—Just in advance of the deadline for the release of the funding requirements under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs act, the four principal federal agencies responsible for broadband funding released an interagency agreement to share information about and collaborate regarding the collection and reporting of certain data and metrics relating to broadband deployment.
The agencies are the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Commerce Department, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
The Memorandum of Understanding is the latest development in federal efforts to coordinate high-speed internet spending, and the Treasury Department is the new addition to agreement.
The other three agencies signed a prior memorandum in June 2021 to coordinate the distribution of federal high-speed internet funds. That June 2021 Memorandum of Understanding remains in effect.
The respective Cabinet and Agency leaders announced that their agencies will consult with one another and share information on data collected from programs administered by the FCC, the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service, programs administered or coordinated by NTIA, and Treasury’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund and State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund.
“No matter who you are or where you live in this country, you need access to high-speed internet to have a fair shot at 21st century success. The FCC, NTIA, USDA and Treasury are working together like never before to meet this shared goal,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Our new interagency agreement will allow us to collaborate more efficiently and deepen our current data sharing relationships[and] get everyone, everywhere connected to the high-speed internet they need.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “When we invest in rural infrastructure, we invest in the livelihoods and health of people in rural America. High-speed internet is the new electricity. It is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, to have access to health care and to stay connected.”
“USDA remains committed to being a strong partner with rural communities and our state, Tribal and federal partners in building ‘future-proof’ broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas so that we finally reach 100 percent high-speed broadband coverage across the country.”
“Our whole-of-government effort to expand broadband adoption must be coordinated and efficient if we are going to achieve our mission,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and head of the NTIA, the agency responsible for administering the vast bulk of the broadband funding.
“This MOU will allow us to build the tools we need for even better data-sharing and transparency in the future,” he said.
“Treasury is proud to work with our federal agency partners to achieve President Biden’s goal of closing the nation’s digital divide,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen. “Access to affordable, high-speed internet is critical to the continued strength of our economy and a necessity for every American household, school, and business.”
As part of the signed agreement, each federal agency partner will share information about projects that have received or will receive funding from the previously mentioned federal funding sources. More information on what the interagency Memorandum of Understanding entails can be found on the FCC’s website. The agreement is effective at the date of its signing, May 11, 2022.
FCC and NTIA Chiefs Name Jessica Quinley, Douglas Brake and Timothy May to Advisory Committees
NTIA representatives to join FCC technology and security committees, FCC rep on spectrum committee
WASHINGTON, March 18, 2022—Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and Assistant Secretary of Commerce Alan Davidson on Friday named staff representatives to participate on each other’s advisory committees. The effort is a component of the Spectrum Coordination Initiative of the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the Commerce Department.
As part of the initiative, the agencies are working with each other and the private sector.
“To succeed as spectrum partners, the FCC and NTIA must hear from and listen to each other in both formal and informal ways,” said Rosenworcel.
“A common understanding of spectrum engineering and market conditions is essential for the success of our efforts at the FCC and NTIA to manage the country’s spectrum resources,” said Davidson.
Rosenworcel named Jessica Quinley of the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau to participate as an observer in NTIA’s Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee. Quinley currently serves as an Acting Legal Advisor in the FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. She was an attorney at NTIA for more than four years.
Davidson named Douglas Brake, a Spectrum Policy Specialist, and Timothy May, a Senior Advisor, to participate in the FCC’s Technological Advisory Council and its Communications Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council, respectively.
Brake, a Spectrum Policy Specialist with NTIA, previously directed the broadband and spectrum policy work at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. May currently serves as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary where he has worked for four years. Before joining NTIA, he was a Policy Analyst in the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.
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