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Lots of Questions, No Easy Answers on Stimulus Funds at Tech Policy "Town Hall"

SAN MATEO, CALIF, May 11, 2009 – Familiar faces gathered and familiar arguments on the best way to spend $7.2 billion rang out Monday at the San Mateo Marriott as the 2009 Tech Policy Summit kicked off with a Broadband Innovation mini-conference, with an opening “town hall” on the “state of the stimulus.”

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“Town Hall” Moderator Geoff Daily (Photo: Andrew Feinberg/BroadbandCensus.com)

SAN MATEO, CALIF, May 11, 2009 – Familiar faces gathered and familiar arguments rang out Monday at the San Mateo Marriott as the 2009 Tech Policy Summit kicked off with a Broadband Innovation mini-conference, with an opening “town hall” on the “state of the stimulus,” with various attendees exchanging ideas on the best way to spend $7.2 billion.

Moderator Geoff Daily, editor of App-Rising.com, called broadband stimulus “one of the hottest areas of tech policy today.” And there was no shortage of agreement from the heavily west-coast crowd. The stimulus is opportunity for “an amazing attempt to reboot America’s broadband policy,” Daily said.

Fixing America’s broadband problems will not be easy and will take time, Daily said. But it will take cooperation across various industries and stakeholders. Implementing the stimulus “needs to be an all hands on deck kind of effort,” he said.

Digital Village Associates founder Don Means suggested that expanding access to libraries was the best use of stimulus funds. Fiber to the library “extends the physical infrastructure,” he said. Libraries should be used as early adopters of emerging technologies to stimulate demand for new applications and move beyond a “digital divide” type solution, he said.

California libraries are taking this approach with a demand-side pilot program, Means said. With sixteen thousand libraries nationwide, even California’s system of eleven thousand is already “shovel ready,” he noted. But one attendee noted that many communities are losing libraries.

Wireless projects are already the most “shovel-ready,” said Scott Stevens, founder of Aspen Wireless. The stimulus goal is to deploy infrastructure as quickly as possible, he said. “Wireless can execute [the goals] in a time sensitive manner.”

Public safety organizations can also benefit from quick deployment of wireless broadband from the redundancy it would provide, backstopping traditional communications systems. Stevens said that fiber shouln’t be ignored, but wireless can fill the gap until it can be built out. “Wireless will deploy the system today — and right away,” he said. “It’s time to take a revolutionary standpoint.”

Wireless has been used successfully for almost two decades, and could be used to succesfully increase penetration quickly, said Brett Glass, CEO of Lariat.net — one of the first wireless ISPs in the country.

Free Press general counsel Marvin Ammori announced his group would release a report Monday calling for more use of wireless in broadband deployment. “I don’t think Brett Glass and I have ever agreed on anything,” he said. But wireless could be a real solution, he said.

Andrew Feinberg was the White House Correspondent and Managing Editor for Breakfast Media. He rejoined BroadbandBreakfast.com in late 2016 after working as a staff writer at The Hill and as a freelance writer. He worked at BroadbandBreakfast.com from its founding in 2008 to 2010, first as a Reporter and then as Deputy Editor. He also covered the White House for Russia's Sputnik News from the beginning of the Trump Administration until he was let go for refusing to use White House press briefings to promote conspiracy theories, and later documented the experience in a story which set off a chain of events leading to Sputnik being forced to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Andrew's work has appeared in such publications as The Hill, Politico, Communications Daily, Washington Internet Daily, Washington Business Journal, The Sentinel Newspapers, FastCompany.TV, Mashable, and Silicon Angle.

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CES 2023: NTIA to Address Broadband, Spectrum, and Privacy, Says Alan Davidson

Alan Davidson asserted that marginalized communities are harmed disproportionately by privacy violations.

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Photo of NTIA Adminstrator Alan Davidson

LAS VEGAS, January 7, 2023 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s 2023 priorities will include the funding and facilitation of states’ broadband deployment programs, the development of a national spectrum policy, and actions to protect the privacy of marginalized groups, said Administrator Alan Davidson at the Consumer Electronics Show on Saturday.

The NTIA’s most high-profile task is to oversee the operations of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program, a $42.45 billion slush fund for broadband-infrastructure deployments which will be divided among the governments of states and U.S. territories. Those governments will administer final distribution of the BEAD funds in accordance with the NTIA’s guidelines.

“This is our generation’s big infrastructure moment,” Davidson said. “This is our chance to connect everybody in the country with what they need to thrive in the modern digital economy, and we are going to do it.”

Davidson reiterated his agency’s stated intention to develop a comprehensive national spectrum strategy to facilitate the various spectrum interests of government and private industry. To allocate spectrum in a manner that fulfills federal needs and stimulates the growth of innovators, largely in the sector of 5G, the NTIA – the administrator of federally used spectrum – must coordinate with the Federal Communications Commission – the administrator of other spectrum.

Calling for a national privacy law, Davidson asserted that marginalized communities are harmed disproportionately by privacy violations. He stated that the NTIA will, possibly within weeks, request public comment on “civil rights and privacy.”

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NTIA Recommends Partnerships and Engagement to Address Workforce Obligations

NTIA recommends states develop relationships with labor organizations.

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Screenshot of webinar with moderators Scott Lively, Sarah Salgado, and speaker Lucy Moore

WASHINGTON, December 13, 2022 – An NTIA policy analyst said earlier this month that states should develop relationships with labor organizations and invite telecommunications companies and federal officials to its workforce training sites to fulfill their obligations under its Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program.

Lucy Moore, an NTIA policy analyst, was discussing at an industry stakeholder webinar how BEAD applicants to the Commerce agency’s $42.5-billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program can fulfill their obligations under the NTIA’s Workforce Planning Guide, published in October.

Moore recommended state entities applying for BEAD money to develop relationships with partners to gain insight into workforce training and development on a state or local level. These partners could include industry groups, community advocates, union organization representatives, educational institutions and workforce intermediary organizations.

She also suggested state entities for BEAD funding invite federal program officers to training programs to demonstrate strategies currently being practiced for training and workforce development.

She also urged industry to conduct early and proactive engagement with the state broadband offices and workforce teams to obtain a clear understanding of workforce requirements for subcontractors and subgrantees. Stakeholders include equity-focused organizations, community-based organizations, workforce boards, schools and community colleges, she said.

Verizon and GenerationUSA say they offer free technical training, which is an example of a training program that teaches technical and soft skills to adults. Another is the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship program, whose goal is to expand the safety and productivity of the telecommunications workforce. It offers 15 occupational apprenticeship programs recognized by the Labor Department.

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After FCC Map Release Date, NTIA Says Infrastructure Money to Be Allocated by June 2023

The NTIA urged eligible entities to submit challenges to the FCC’s broadband map by January 13, 2023.

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Photo of NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson, in January 2015 used with permission

WASHINGTON, November 10, 2022 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration said Thursday its intention to announce allocations from the $42.5-billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program by June 30, 2023.

The announcement comes on the heels of the FCC announcing Thursday that a preliminary draft of the commission’s national broadband map will be released and available for public challenge on November 18, which was required for the NTIA to begin moving the broadband infrastructure money out of the door to the states. The challenge process is the primary mechanism to correct for errors in the map’s data.

Don’t miss the discussion about “What’s the State of IIJA?” at Digital Infrastructure Investment–Washington on November 17, 2022: Nearly one year into the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, what is its state of implementation? How are state broadband offices feeling about the pace of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration? What are they doing to prepare for it? How big of a jolt to the broadband industry will the IIJA be?

“The next eight weeks are critical for our federal efforts to connect the unconnected,” said NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson. “The FCC’s upcoming challenge process is one of the best chances to ensure that we have accurate maps guiding us as we allocate major…awards in 2023. I urge every state and community that believes it can offer improvements to be part of this process so that we can deliver on the promise of affordable, reliable high-speed internet service for everyone in America.”

To ensure public input is considered in the allocation process, the NTIA urged eligible entities Thursday to submit challenges to the FCC’s national broadband map – the dataset that will shape the distribution of BEAD grants – by January 13, 2023.

To promote a robust challenge process, the NTIA said it will offer technical assistance to state governments, informational webinars to the public, and regular engagement with state officials to identify and resolve issues.

Clarification: A previous headline said the NTIA would “finalize” money by June 2023. In actuality, the NTIA will initially announce BEAD “allocations” by June 2023, then eligible entities must submit proposals to the NTIA for approval before the money is fully disbursed, which could be sometime after June 2023. 

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