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Senate Confirms Davidson as National Telecommunications and Information Administration Chief

Bipartisan vote confirms Davidson atop the Commerce Department agency. It has a large pile of money to spend on broadband.

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Newly-confirmed head of the NTIA Alan Davidson

WASHINGTON, January 11, 2022 ­– In a bipartisan vote of 60-31, the Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee to head the National Telecommunications and Information Administration: Alan Davidson.

Davidson, a former public policy director at Google, will become the first Senate-confirmed head of the NTIA since mid-2019.

Several members of Republican leadership voted against Davidson’s nomination Tuesday afternoon, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Whip John Thune, R-S.D., as did Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., who had both been recorded as opposed to advancing Davidson’s nomination out of committee.

As the new head of the agency tasked with advising the president on telecommunications and information policy issues, Davidson will be responsible for overseeing the distribution of billions of dollars in broadband funding across the nation made available by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

On Friday, the agency released its request for public comment on the act.

Early reactions from industry groups to Davidson’s confirmation were positive, with the NCTA, the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions and Public Knowledge all praising the Senate’s approval.

In light of the funding the NTIA must help distribute, organizations emphasized the magnitude of Davidson’s confirmation, with ATIS saying the agency’s mission has “never been more important” and Public Knowledge called the NTIA’s role as a “critical position at an important time.”

Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel also praised the vote, saying that in working with Davidson’s NTIA she is confident that the FCC “can make progress on delivering innovative, modern communications that reach everyone, everywhere.”

Public Knowledge also said in their statement that Davidson’s work on funding alone will not close the digital divide without a fully appointed FCC.

They advocated for the confirmation to the FCC of their organization’s co-founder and former CEO Gigi Sohn– whose nomination has recently stalled in the Senate and would break the 2-2 partisan deadlock at the agency upon confirmation.

Reporter T.J. York received his degree in political science from the University of Southern California. He has experience working for elected officials and in campaign research. He is interested in the effects of politics in the tech sector.

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Venture Capital, Private Equity and Institutional Investors on Digital Infrastructure Investment

Panel 4 video. Join the Broadband Breakfast Club to watch the full-length videos from Digital Infrastructure Investment.

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Video from Panel 4 at Digital Infrastructure Investment: Tom Coverick, Managing Director, Keybanc Capital Markets, David Wedick, Chief Financial Office, Maine Connectivity Authority, and Vikash Harlalka, Equity Research Analyst, Communications Services Team, New Street Research, moderated by Drew Clark, Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast,

For a free article summarizing the event, see States and Municipalities Should Move Quickly on Infrastructure Funding, BEAD or Not: Beginning financial planning early and allow time to tweak statutes that may stand in the way of certain funding options, Broadband Breakfast, November 18, 2022.

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States and Municipalities Should Move Quickly on Infrastructure Funding, BEAD or Not

Beginning financial planning early and allow time to tweak statutes that may stand in the way of certain funding options.

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Photo of Drew Clark (left), Tom Coverick, David Wedick and Vikash Harlalka at Digital Infrastructure Investment by Zoey Howell-Brown.

WASHINGTON, November 20, 2022 – Despite an unprecedented influx of federal broadband funding, states should expeditiously pursue diverse network funding options, said Tom Coverick, managing director at Keybanc Capital Markets, speaking Thursday at Broadband Breakfast’s Digital Infrastructure Investment conference.

Coverick advocated financial strategies that are “nimble, responsive, and quick.” And among other benefits, beginning financial planning early on allows time to tweak statutes that may stand in the way of certain funding options, he argued.

“I don’t think sitting and waiting for one piece (of financing) is the right thing to do,” he said. “I don’t say that people should be hasty, but the reality is it’s always easier to slow things down in the financial world than it is to speed them up,” he added.

David Wedick, chief financial officer of the Maine Connectivity Authority, also spoke to importance of timely action. “Time is money, and the market is changing,” he said.

The two were speaking on a panel moderated by Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark, and including Vikash Harlalka, a member of the Communications Services team at New Street Research.

The private sector can offer much more to the broadband industry than just financial support, Wedick argued. “Investment from the private sector is not just going to be in terms of dollars, it’s going to be in terms of resources (such as) the law firm that decides to create a new division around broadband legal work,” he said.

In addition to seeking out private investment, state officials must navigate the federal government’s multitude of broadband-funding efforts, including a $65 billion infusion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Federal moneys are divided among numerous programs administered by various federal agencies, including the United States Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund, the Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect program, the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment initiative. The BEAD fund will distribute $42.45 billion to the states for deployment and related projects.

Full videos from Digital Infrastructure Investment will be available soon for Broadband Breakfast Club members. Join the waitlist:

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Local Leadership and Coordination Key to Proper Federal Fund Allocation, Conference Hears

Local communities understand their own needs, said Arkansas’s Glen Howie.

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Photo of Phil Murphy, senior advisor at the NTIA, at the DII conference Thursday

WASHINGTON, November 17, 2022 – Robust state and local leadership in coordination with federal support initiatives is key to the rollout of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act’s broadband funding, agreed officials from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and state broadband offices speaking at Broadband Breakfast’s Digital Infrastructure Investment conference Thursday.

Local communities understand their own needs best, said Glen Howie, director of the Arkansas State Broadband Office. Howie said his state will “go county by county,” encouraging ground-up leadership from the citizens of his state.

“It’s not really about Washington, and it’s not even really about Little Rock, it’s about (local communities),” he said. Before assuming his current position, Howie worked in Louisiana’s broadband office, another state which prioritizes community engagement.

In Maryland, state funding initiatives favor service providers who enjoy community support, said the state’s broadband director, Kenrick Gordon. One Maryland program even allows local jurisdictions to apply in partnership with a preferred provider, he said.

At the federal level, the NTIA is working with states to provide them the resources they need, said Phil Murphy, senior advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary at the NTIA. Speakers noted that many state broadband offices are only months old, understaffed, or both.

“We really want to be partners,” he said, “We want to work with (states) through this process and to help them leverage the capabilities that we’ve developed so that we’re all working towards the same goal.”

And beyond the IIJA funding initiatives, Howie said he is working to brighten his state’s future by seeking out technology innovators in many fields, including agriculture, education, and healthcare.

“I’m on the hunt for really cool, innovative things that could be disruptors…in Arkansas,” he said.

The IIJA, which became law one year ago Tuesday,  allocated to broadband infrastructure an unprecedented $65 billion. Congress designated the bulk of these funds – $42.5billion – for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program, primarily a infrastructure deployment initiative, which will issue grants to the states based on relative need, as shown in the Federal Communications Commission’s national broadband map.

The NTIA administers BEAD funds and is scheduled to announce states’ grants by June 2023. Once states receive funds, they will operate sub-grant programs to allocate funding to individual deployment and related projects.

Beside the BEAD program, the IIJA funded initiatives to promote digital equity and adoption, middle-mile infrastructure, and tribal broadband.

Full videos from Digital Infrastructure Investment will be available soon for Broadband Breakfast Club members. Join the waitlist:

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