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Vice President Biden Kicks Off Broadband Stimulus In Pennsylvania

WATTSBURG, Penn., July 1, 2009 — Vice President Joe Biden today announced that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would begin receiving applications on July 14, in the first of three waves of applications.



By Tina Nguyen and Ryan Womack, Reporter-Researchers,

WATTSBURG, Penn., July 1, 2009 — Vice President Joe Biden today announced that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would begin receiving applications on July 14, in the first of three waves of applications.

Headlining the Rural Broadband Tour at Seneca High School near Erie, Penn., Biden said that making funds for the Broadband Technological Opportunities Program would be the first step in the Obama Administration’s “investment for the entire United States.”

Also appearing with Biden were newly appointed Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Strickling, and Rep. Kathy Dalhkemper, D-Penn.

The group discussed the Obama administration’s goal of bringing nationwide broadband access.

Biden was jovial but “serious” as he presented incentives to the citizens of Pennsylvania in order to urge broadband in their area, saying “you can’t function [and] a nation can’t compete” without access. The Vice President said that ubiquitous access for farmers and schools is not a luxury, but that everyone “deserves it,” and furthermore that everyone “needs it.”

“This is an issue about equal opportunity,” Biden said, stressing that broadband would be a powerful tool for rural communities. “That changing world is all around us. Help us keep that promise today.”

He announced that potential grant recipients could view the Notice of Funds Availability regarding grants online today at Two more application periods would be set for the end of 2009 and for spring 2010, “phasing in” potential broadband projects that had not had time to prepare their applications.

Secretary Vilsack, on hand to introduce the vice president, added that the Rural Broadband Tour would host multiple workshops across the country to help people complete the application process.

“By no means will we satisfy needs,” he acknowledged in response to a question about “last mile” broadband connection, adding that BTOP had set aside $2.4 billion to address last, middle and first mile access issues. “But we do have to invest in all three categories.”

He also pointed out that private companies, though heavily invested in expanding their networks, could not particularly afford to go to rural areas.

Emphasizing the importance that broadband plays in bringing the global market to rural communities, Secretary Locke pointed out that 14 other countries have better broadband access that the United States does, a fact he called “simply unacceptable.” He vowed that the Department of Commerce would begin to “remedy this problem.”

Genachowski, in his first public appearance as FCC chairman, agreed that the United States was “lagging behind” in nearly all areas of broadband. He highlighted, however, that broadband access in public schools and libraries was far ahead of the rest of the world, thanks to the e-RATE program authorized under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The new BTOP program, he hoped, would accomplish something similar in rural communities.

“We plan to accelerate economic growth, create jobs, spur innovation, connect small businesses, and extend the benefits of broadband to police and firefighters,” Genachowski said.

Throughout his speech, Biden repeatedly underscored the benefits and new uses for broadband, such as telemedicine, e-commerce, education, and job opportunities. Broadband would also “help maintain the character of rural communities, without having to change them,” he said.

“You need a terminal that connects and can allow people to stay in their towns, create thousands of new broadband enabled jobs.”

At the end of his remarks, Biden called on the FCC to work with the White House and the Cabinet in creating the FCC’s nation-wide broadband plan, to be completed by the February 2010.

“We have to help support huge upfront cost it takes to build into rural areas—if we don’t do it, no one will do it. The cost will not have to pass on to you,” he told the local crowd.

Digital Inclusion

NTIA Seeks Comment on How to Spend $2.5 Billion in Digital Equity Act

National Telecommunications and Information Administration is seeking comment on how to structure the programs.



Photo of Veneeth Iyengar of ConnectLA

WASHINGTON, March 1, 2023 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced Wednesday that it is seeking comment on how to structure the $2.5 billion that the Digital Equity Act provides to promote digital equity and inclusion. 

As part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Digital Equity Act consists of two sub-programs, the State Digital Equity Capacity grant and the Digital Equity Competitive grant. Comments will guide how the NTIA will design, regulate, and evaluate criteria for both programs. 

“We need to hear directly from those who are most impacted by the systemic barriers that prevent some from fully utilizing the Internet,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said Wednesday at the National Digital Inclusion Alliance’s Net Inclusion event in San Antonio. 

See Commerce Secretary Raimondo’s remarks at Net Inclusion:

The request for comment is part of NTIA’s strategy to hear diverse perspectives in implementing its goal to ensure every American has the skills and capacity needed to reap the benefits of the digital economy, stated a press release. 

The $1.44 billion State Digital Equity Capacity grant will fund implementation of state digital equity plans which will strategically plan how to overcome barriers faced by communities seeking to achieve digital equity.  

Simply making investments in broadband builds is not enough, said Veneeth Iyengar, executive director of ConnectLA, speaking at a Brookings Insitution event in December. Bringing digital equity means “driving adoption, digital skills, and doing the kinds of things that we need to do to tackle the digital divide.” 

The $1.25 billion Digital Equity Competitive grant program will fund anchor institutions, such as schools, libraries, and nonprofits, in offering digital inclusion activities that promote internet adoption. 

“Community-anchor institutions have been and are the connective tissue that make delivering high-speed internet access possible,” said Alan Davidson, head of the NTIA at AnchorNets 2022 conference. 

This announcement follows dissent on the definition of digital discrimination. Commenters to the Federal Communications Commission disagree on whether the intent of a provider should be considered when determining if the provider participated in digital discrimination. There has been no response from the FCC. 

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Innovation Fund’s Global Approach May Improve O-RAN Deployment: Commenters

The $1.5 billion Innovation Fund should be used to promote global adoption, say commenters.



Illustration about intelligent edge computing from Deloitte Insights

WASHINGTON, February 2, 2023 – A global approach to funding open radio access networks will improve its success in the United States, say commenters to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

The NTIA is seeking comment on how to implement the $1.5 billion appropriated to the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund as directed by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. The grant program is primarily responsible for supporting the promotion and deployment of open, interoperable, and standards-based radio access networks. 

Radio access networks provide critical technology to connect users to the mobile network over radio waves. O-RAN would create a more open ecosystem of network equipment that would otherwise be reliant on proprietary technology from a handful of companies.  

Global RAN

Commenters to the NTIA argue that in order for O-RAN to be successful, it must be global. The Administration must take a “global approach” when funding projects by awarding money to those companies that are non-U.S.-based, said mobile provider Verizon in its comments.  

To date, new entrants into the RAN market have been the center for O-RAN development, claimed wireless service provider, US Cellular. The company encouraged the NTIA to “invest in proven RAN vendors from allied nations, rather than focusing its efforts on new entrants and smaller players that lack operational expertise and experience.” 

Korean-based Samsung Electrontics added that by allowing trusted entities with a significant U.S. presence to compete for project funding and partner on those projects, the NTIA will support standardizing interoperability “evolution by advancing a diverse global market of trusted suppliers in the U.S.” 

O-RAN must be globally standardized and globally interoperable, Verizon said. Funding from the Public Wireless Innovation Fund will help the RAN ecosystem mature as it desperately needs, it added.  

Research and development

O-RAN continues to lack the maturity that is needed for commercial deployment, agreed US Cellular in its comments. The company indicated that the complexity and costliness of system integration results from there being multiple vendors that would need to integrate but are not ready for full integration. 

Additionally, interoperability with existing RAN infrastructure requires bi-lateral agreements, customized integration, and significant testing prior to deployment, the comment read. The complicated process would result in O-RAN increasing the cost of vendor and infrastructure deployment, claimed US Cellular, directly contrary to the goals of O-RAN. 

Several commenters urged the NTIA to focus funding projects on research and development rather than subsidizing commercial deployments.  

The NTIA is already fully engaged in broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas through its Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, said Verizon. The Innovation Fund will better advance its goals by funding projects that accelerate the solving of remaining O-RAN technical challenges that continue to delay its deployment, it continued. 

US Cellular argued that the NTIA should “spur deployment of additional independent testing and certification lab facilities… where an independent third party can perform end to end testing, conformance, and certification.” 

The Innovation Fund should be used to focus on technology development and solving practical challenges, added wireless trade association, CTIA. Research can focus on interoperability, promotion of equipment that meets O-RAN specifications, and projects that support hardware design and energy efficiency, it said. 

Furthermore, CTIA recommended that the Administration avoid interfering in how providers design their networks to encourage providers to adopt O-RAN in an appropriate manner for their company. Allowing a flexible, risk-based approach to O-RAN deployments will “help ensure network security and stability,” it wrote. 

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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.



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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