HOUSTON, September 28, 2021 – Sunne Wright McPeak, president and CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, said Monday that stakeholders interested in expanding broadband rollout should focus on the last mile, the stretch of cable that goes to homes and businesses, by using existing middle mile infrastructure.
“I would rather leverage the resources and infrastructure they’ve [internet service providers] already built – that we as taxpayers and ratepayers have already paid for – and tap into that in order to focus on last-mile,” McPeak said at the Digital Infrastructure Investment conference.
Digital Infrastructure Investment 2021 was hosted as an online and in person conference by Broadband Breakfast at the Broadband Communities Summit. The recording of the Monday event is available for registration and replay.
This year’s conference heard from proponents of the open access model, which allows telecommunications providers to ride on the existing infrastructure to boost competition, lower prices, and broaden connectivity.
McPeak said she supports the open access model to deliver on what she said should be a focus: on the last mile to businesses and homes – and especially to California’s large native American population and tribal lands.
“There has to be a discipline in our lenses of getting to last mile unserved, and in California that includes all our tribal lands,” McPeak said. “We have more federally recognized tribal governments than any other state and more native Americans than any other state. And so, if we don’t focus on last mile, we will not be as efficient in our investments in middle mile. And of course, we also support open access for middle mile.
“Every dollar that we don’t have to duplicate in middle mile, although there’s going to be a middle mile network, we can get to last mile.”
For Nate Walowitz, regional broadband program director for the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, opening access to infrastructure will entail realities that may not sound pleasant. “Coopetition,” he said. “Sometimes you’re a cooperator, sometimes you’re a competitor, and it doesn’t really matter h ow that partnership plays out because the reality is, in the business we’re in, we can’t all find a way to make money necessarily in a lot of our markets across large service areas…unless we take a strategy where we look for solid partnerships where it’s complimentary.”
Matt Schmit, director of the office of broadband in Illinois, said that the key is a “balance between last mile and middle mile expansion, and I think the kind of partnerships we’ve forged vary, from one focus to the next, but it really is that complimentary effort that’s going to get the job done in Illinois.”
Partnerships with telecoms
McPeak said partnerships between municipalities and telecoms starts with an understanding of each’s core competencies. Telecoms, she said, are generally good at delivering telecommunications services and maintaining the network, but it also has to ensure that it is setting quality standards and deploying in hard-to-reach areas while offering affordable services for low-income households. “Those are the kinds of things that have to be done in tough negotiations,” she said.
Chris Walker, senior executive director of infrastructure strategy at the Northwest Open Access Network, said governments and telecoms each have their own things that they are great at, and exploiting those things will benefit all. That, he said, includes governments being great at handling infrastructure and the private sector being very good at innovating.
State Broadband Offices Have Obligation to Explain NTIA Notice of Funding to Applicants
Georgia Technology Authority representative says the notices are dense and difficult for applicants to understand.
WASHINGTON, May 20, 2022 – A representative from the Georgia Technology Authority on Friday said that state broadband offices are obligated to work with those applying for funding from the bipartisan infrastructure bill so that they understand the rules used to determine grant allocation.
Speaking at an event on grant applications for rural communities hosted by the National Broadband Resource Hub, Josh Hildebrandt, GTA’s director of broadband initiatives, emphasized that to maximize their chances of being selected for funding, applicants could require significant assistance in understanding the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s notices of funding opportunity that were released last week.
Want to know more about this game-changing Notice of Funding Opportunity, and the powerful tools it brings to U.S. last mile broadband? Visit Broadband.Money‘s tools and resources, including four themes to watch for in the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment NOFO.
“They are established for the sole fact of working through these NOFOs and being able to just deploy these funds,” said Hildebrandt.
Experts such as digital access organization Thrive Regional Partnership’s director of transportation and infrastructure Shannon Millsaps, another panelist at Friday’s event, say that the NTIA’s notices are not very easy for applicants to understand in part due to the dense language they use in explaining agency guidelines.
Hildebrandt also encouraged grant applicants to follow criteria in federal rules for disbursement that is stated to be “preferred” for grant allocation, stating that this will increase chances for applicants to win funding.
Millsaps additionally emphasized the need to remember in fund disbursement that different communities are struggling with different barriers to connectivity, even ones within the same state, and that different approaches to connecting the communities will be required during implementation of broadband infrastructure expansion.
Mountain Connect Features NTIA’s Alan Davidson, 2 Colorado Senators and State Attorney General
A star-studded cast will take the stage next week as part of the dozens of events slated to take place.
May 20, 2022 – The Mountain Connect conference next Tuesday and Wednesday will feature an interview with National Telecommunications and Information Administration Administrator Alan Davidson by Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark.
The two will discuss the recent notice of funding opportunities on released for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program, the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program, and the State Digital Equity Act programs.
Pose questions of and watch Davidson’s interview with Clark at the event livestream.
The conference, in Keystone, Colo., on May 24 and May 25, will also include a question and answer session with Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo. Bennet sponsored the of the Broadband Reform and Investment to Drive Growth in the Economy Act of 2021 which would go on to influence the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., will also speak at the event on Wednesday, and other officials speaking at Mountain Connect include Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, ConnectME Authority Executive Director Peggy Schaffer, Fiber Broadband Association CEO Gary Bolton, Nextlink Internet Chief Strategy Officer Claude Aiken, and many others.il May 24.
There will also be five distinct subject tracks across both May 24 and May 25: Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment, Community Developments Track (One and Two), Emerging Technologies, and Community Broadband Case Studies.
These events will feature speakers from across the industry, representing providers, advocates, municipal entities, and private ventures. There will be 15 such events on May 24 and an additional 10 on May 25.
Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance Christopher Mitchell will be moderating two panels on May 24 – an event on Community Development Track One and another an hour later on BEAD.
34 States Signal Intent to Participate in NTIA’s Main Broadband Program
National Telecommunications and Information Administration announces news on its ‘Internet for All’ web portal for three IIJA programs.
WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 – The Biden administration announced Wednesday that 34 states and territories signed on to participate in the programs outlined by its “Internet for All” initiative.
The “Internet for All” moniker is the new umbrella web site of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration for its three programs under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: the Broadband Digital Equity, Access, and Deployment Program, the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program, and the State Digital Equity Act programs.
These programs are part of the administration’s goals of bridging the digital divide and achieving universal broadband by 2030.
Since NITA announced the IFA on Friday, the following territories and states announced their intention to participate: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, American Samoa, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, United States Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo stated that the NTIA’s programs would be critical to allowing Americans to “participate in the modern economy.”
“Generations before us brought electricity to rural America and built the interstate highways,” said Alan Davidson, assistant secretary of commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA administrator. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, states are now ‘signing on’ to this initiative to promote Internet access and adoption so that everyone in America has a chance to thrive in the modern economy.”
Editor’s note: Because of an editing error, the headline of earlier version of this article said that 34 states had signed letters of intent to participate in NTIA’s BEAD program. In fact, 34 states have either signed letters of intent or otherwise signaled an intent to participate.
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