Connect with us

Funding

Pandemic and Funding Programs Increasing Investments in Broadband and M&A, Conference Hears

Broadband money programs and a need for connectivity is driving capital into the space.

Published

on

The experts hosted by Broadband Breakfast at the Digital Infrastructure Investment conference on September 27.

HOUSTON, September 27, 2021 – The pandemic and President Joe Biden’s infrastructure agenda are accelerating investments and mergers and acquisitions in broadband related ventures, according to panelists at the Digital Infrastructure Investment conference on Monday.

Experts hosted by Broadband Breakfast said trends that are emerging from the pandemic, the $1.2-trillion infrastructure bill that is now before the House and the Federal Communications Commission’s $9.2-billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, are bigger and accelerated investments not just in broadband, but in non-traditional markets.

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.

“I think [the pandemic] it opened up new markets,” said Lindsay Miller, a partner at law firm Ice Miller. “Whereas for a long time investment was being made in the metropolitan areas, in the big cities, where the return on investment was pretty much certain and likely to be quick, now we’re seeing more investment in small-to-mid-sized cities and rural markets, especially because, in the pandemic, more folks may have relocated to those areas or stayed in those areas.

“So I think we’re seeing a lot of changes in terms of where these investments are taking place,” she added.

For mergers and acquisitions, James Wagar, a partner at Frontbridge Capital, noted companies are buying service providers at very high valuations and using government grants to upgrade the networks.

That strategy may benefit areas that need connectivity fast, as Ryan Carr, a partner at MC Partners, said when he described how some are using the FCC’s RDOF money. He used the example of winners of RDOF money who see that some local service providers can’t provide high enough internet speeds and so they buy the provider and just upgrade the networks.

“They view that as an easier way to get to market faster, rather than them going out and building that network all over again,” Carr said, adding it’s akin to a land grab as it’s not about a thirst for connectivity and how fast you can build out. “So you may be able to go out and buy a local WISP or local ILEC, or whatever it may be…and upgrade their infrastructure as a way to get to market faster.”

Carr added that he expects “continued M&A and a lot more institutional investor interest in this space and continued progress and accelerated investment.”

Local focus a big plus in infrastructure bill

Carr also noted that the infrastructure bill’s focus on state or city level funding, instead of being divvied out from the federal government will give more opportunities for smaller providers perhaps more attuned to their communities.

It gives a “lot of opportunity for smaller providers to access those funds, rather than it just going to a Charter or A&T. A lot of this is going to come down to, how good is your relationship with your local community and your local municipality,” Carr said.

Miller agrees, stating that this is a unique moment for partnerships and new approaches that can be taken for broadband expansion.

Wagar said in the pacific northwest, the state broadband offices are becoming more active and they “want to give the money away,” if you come with a viable plan.

The session was moderated by Drew Clark, Drew ClarkEditor and Publisher of Broadband Breakfast and Of Counsel to The CommLaw Group.

Assistant Editor Ahmad Hathout has spent the last half-decade reporting on the Canadian telecommunications and media industries for leading publications. He started the scoop-driven news site downup.io to make Canadian telecom news more accessible and digestible. Follow him on Twitter @ackmet

Funding

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.

Published

on

Screenshot of Kat Lau, Josh Hildebrandt and Shannon Millsaps

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.

Continue Reading

Funding

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.

Published

on

Photo of Alan Davidson (left) and Drew Clark at Broadband Breakfast for Lunch in April 2022 by Megan Boswell

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.

See questions asked of Davidson at Broadband Breakfast for Lunch in the Broadband.Money community, or read Broadband Breakfast’s and other reports of the prior event.

Also see Broadband Breakfast and Broadband.Money’s analyses about the recent Notices of Funding Opportunity, including on Middle Mile NOFO, and on BEAD’s local coordination and the challenge process.

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.

Continue Reading

Funding

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.

Published

on

Photo of Gina Raimondo from CNBC

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.

Continue Reading

Recent

Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Get twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts.
* = required field

Trending