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NTIA, RUS Going 'On Tour' – Stimulus Meeting Times and Agenda Announced

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2009 – After filling multiple overflow rooms at Tuesday’s broadband stimulus kickoff event, the Rural Utilities Services and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced Friday they would hold six additional public meetings on the broadband stimulus.

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WASHINGTON, March 13, 2009 – After filling multiple overflow rooms at Tuesday’s broadband stimulus kickoff event, the Rural Utilities Services and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced Friday they would hold six additional public meetings on the broadband stimulus.

Included in the announcement were firm dates, times and locations for the  six meetings: two in Washington, plus the satellite meetings in Las Vegas, Nev., and Flagstaff, Ariz.

The next series of meetings begins with an encore performance in Washington, D.C. on Monday, March 16,  at the Commerce Department auditorium.

The “tour” then heads west to Las Vegas, Nev., for a meeting Tuesday, March 17 at the Charleston Heights Center, 800 South Brush Street. The Wednesday, March 18 meeting will be in Flagstaff, Az., at the Northern Arizona University’s High Country Conference Center, located at 201 West Butler Avenue.

The hometown crowd in Washington will have three more chances to catch the show and make comments, with meetings planned for Thursday, March 19, and then on Monday, March 23, and Tuesday, March 24. The D.C. meetings on the 16th, 19th and 23rd will feature a speaker from a state-level utility commission.

Tentative agenda items for each meeting were also announced. The March 16 meeting, “headlined” by District of Columbia Public Services Chairman Betty Ann Kane,  will begin at 10:00 a.m. Eastern time with a one-hour roundtable and 30 minute public comment period on private sector eligibility for the NTIA and RUS grant programs.

Following a lunch break, there will be an identically structured roundtable and comment period on coordination with the USDA Grant and Loan program, followed by a session focused  on the demand side of the program –  “innovative programs to encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service and expanding public computer center capacity.”

The third topic is the focus of a combined $450 million in grant funding, with $200 million set aside for expanding public computer centers, such as schools and libraries, and another $250 million available for “innovative programs.”

The St. Patrick’s day gathering in Las Vegas and the Flagstaff encore on March 18 will follow the same roundtable and public comment format as the Monday meeting, but with different topics: (1) “reaching vulnerable populations, driving demand, and the role of strategic institutions,” (2) “definitions of ‘broadband,’ ‘underserved’ and ‘unserved,'” and (3) “selection criteria and weighing priorities.”

Both meetings will begin at 4:00 p.m. Pacific and Mountain times, respectively.

The last three Washington, DC meetings will return to the 10:00 a.m. start time and retain the one-hour roundtable, 30 minute comment time frames, but will each have distinct topic sets and featured speakers.

The March 19 meeting will feature two sessions focused on shaping definitions of “broadband” and “underserved areas,” respectively. The statutory language of the stimulus lets NTIA define those terms in consultation with the Federal Communications Commission.

The second session also will include discussion of how to best reach “vulnerable populations.” And the day will close with a roundtable and comment period on rural and unserved areas — priority targets for the $4.7 billion in grants  to be awarded by NTIA under its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. The featured speaker will be New York State Public Service Commissioner Maureen Harrison.

Network neutrality issues could take the stage during first session of the the March 23 meeting. The day will open with a roundtable on “nondiscrimination and interconnection obligations.” While the language of the stimulus law requires “open access” on networks built with stimulus funds, the definition of open access is left to NTIA to define using the “five points” of the Federal Communications Commission’s Internet Policy Statement as a minimum standard.

The featured guest on March 19 will be National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners president Fred Butler. Butler, who sits on the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, is likely to figure prominently during the meeting’s second and third sessions, which focus on the role of the states in (1) implementing the broadband stimulus, and (2) developing a comprehensive national broadband map.

The stimulus package appropriated $350 million for “state-centered” broadband mapping pursuant to the Broadband Data Improvement Act, passed during the 110th Congress. The NARUC board of directors passed a resolution encouraging states to explore methods of broadband data collection and mapping, including public-private partnerships, during its winter 2009 meeting last month.

The final meeting on March 24  will likely appeal to the financially minded, with sessions on post-award compliance and oversight, selection criteria and weighing priorities, and community economic development.

Accountability and oversight of the grant programs could be a hot topic, as many members of House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, including subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher, D-Va., expressed a desire to see strict oversight of the grant programs during a March 12 hearing on Universal Service Fund reform. Boucher suggested oversight of  the grant programs might be a subject for a hearing in the near future.

Contrary to the unofficial motto of “sin city,” what happens in Vegas (or Washington, or Flagstaff) will not stay there. NTIA announced it will webcast each meeting live on its website: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/broadbandgrants. And all materials and information will be archived on the RUS site as well, at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov.

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Funding

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.

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Photo of Evan Feinman from AEI

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:

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FCC

Treasury Department Joins FCC, USDA and NTIA in Collaborating on Broadband Funding

Agency leaders sign pact to formalize information-sharing on broadband deployment projects.

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Photo of Janet Yellen from January 2018 by the European Central Bank

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.

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FCC

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

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Photo of Doug Brake from Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

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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