LAS VEGAS, January 7, 2022 – Multiple Republican U.S. senators have stated that overseeing fund disbursement from President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is among their top tech policy priorities for the coming year of 2022.
Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W. Va., both of whom broke with their party to vote for the bill’s passage in the Senate, each listed fund disbursement as one of their foremost focuses for the year.
The senators spoke during a Friday CES panel discussion which also featured Sens. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.
Collins emphasized that she believes successful fund disbursement is dependent on the Federal Communications Commission updating its mapping of broadband service across the country so that in-need areas can be properly targeted.
Capito commended Collins’ work on the infrastructure package and similarly echoed Collins’ sentiments, stating that she feels the Senate has taken a large step forward to bridging the digital divide by making sure to specifically target unserved and underserved populations in its work.
She stressed that she feels this is among the crucial changes the Senate made in its recent infrastructure work to avoid making the same mistakes that it made in the past on infrastructure and connectivity policy as recent as a decade ago.
Blackburn made clear that she feels the Senate should pass legislation which specifically focuses on populations unserved by broadband before it focuses on those that are underserved while agreeing with many of Collins’ and Capito’s policy positions.
Researching the Impact of Digital Equity Funding Starts With Community Collaboration
Understanding the funding impact will ‘begin with the NTIA’s mandate to work with community partners.’
CLEVELAND, June 23, 2022 – Formulating research questions and making data readily accessible will contribute to the impact of federal and state digital equity funding, said experts speaking at the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Broadband Access Summit Wednesday.
It is essential to “formulate the research questions with communities” so that researchers will understand what is of interest and importance to the residents and local leaders, said Nicole Marwell from the University of Chicago,
Marwell said it is “critical” for researchers to consider how to “ask questions that bring answers that are more relevant for the community partners and then for [researchers] to try and figure out a way to make that interesting for a research audience.”
“We can demystify research,” said Fallon Wilson of the #BlackTechFutures Research Institute, speaking on how researchers can effectively work with community members. When data looks friendly to local leaders, they can go directly to their state broadband offices and advocate for their specific needs in specific areas.
“The best advocates are the people who advocate for themselves,” said Wilson.
Our role as researchers can play is to make data digestible for the non-academic, said Hernan Galperin of the University of Southern California.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration requires states to work with community leaders and partners for the funds distributed by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
Wilson praised this mandate, saying that understanding the funding impact will “begin with the NTIA’s mandate to work with community partners.”
BEAD Program Initiative Should Utilize Analysis of Affordable Connectivity Program Enrollment
Analyzing ACP enrollment can help the BEAD program solve the ‘persisting gap between deployment and subscription.’
WASHINGTON, June 16, 2022 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration should utilize adoption data from the Affordable Connectivity Program to maximize the effectiveness of its $42.5-billion infrastructure program, according to a broadband adoption expert.
“If the federal government’s investments in broadband connectivity are to be effective, different programmatic pieces must work together,” said John Horrigan, Benton Senior Fellow and expert on technology adoption and digital inclusion, in a blog post Thursday.
Analyzing the enrollment data of the Federal Communications Commission’s ACP can help the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program — a $42.5 billion fund for infrastructure to be handed to the states — solve the “persisting gap between deployment and subscription” in three ways, said Horrigan.
First, examining ACP enrollment in zip codes can help target which areas within cities are unaware of ACP. Second, understanding where ACP enrollment is over-performing can “launch productive inquiry into models that may be effective – and replicable.” Third, ACP enrollment findings can help structure community outreach initiatives for digital inclusion.
“The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has emphasized that a key goal of BEAD investments in digital equity,” said Horrigan. “State planners will need all the tools they can find to work toward that goal – and analysis of ACP performance is one such tool.”
States Must Review ISP Capabilities When Awarding Federal Infrastructure Funds
‘[State] decision makers in this program need to be careful about who is the qualified and experienced provider.’
WASHINGTON, June 14, 2022 – States should ensure telecoms trusted with billions in federal infrastructure funds can do the job before giving them the money, according to experts at an Information Technology and Innovation Foundation webinar on Tuesday.
“[State] decision makers in this program need to be careful about who is the qualified and experienced provider and who is going to be able to actually deliver,” said Alex Minard, state legislative counsel at the NCTA, Internet and Television Association.
State broadband offices should look at the ISP’s broadband deployment plans and company track records to determine whether the provider has sufficient capacity to complete the project, said Paul Garnett, CEO of the broadband consulting firm the Vernonburg Group.
An ISP’s customer base and experience in broadband deployment can help states determine whether to invest in the company, added Garnett.
Minard added that ISP’s that provide a matching fund demonstrate their desire to work with the state and follow-through with their commitments.
He added that states must consider the costs of the project in regard to available funds, the likelihood of sign-ups from community members, and who will run the cybersecurity of the network in the long term.
State partnerships with ISP’s have been said to be essential for broadband deployment.
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- Researching the Impact of Digital Equity Funding Starts With Community Collaboration
- Experts Say Partnerships Key for Downtown City Connectivity
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