WASHINGTON, January 31, 2022 — Stakeholders looking for broadband funding for their communities at a National Telecommunications and Information Administration listening session on Wednesday were split on whether funding should go to middle-mile infrastructure.
The NTIA, which is administering the $42.5 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act under its Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment program, seeks comments from the public on a number of questions, including what criteria it should use to evaluate projects, how it should define “eligible subscriber” for the low-cost broadband service option, how it should ensure transparency and accountability, and to what extend funding should be used to build middle-mile infrastructure. Comments are due February 4, 2022.
It was on the latter question that sparked a division between those who think there should be substantial funding for the transport route – which carries traffic to the cable that plugs into homes and businesses – and those who argued it should not.
Though some of the meeting’s attendees felt that the middle-mile should receive no funding at all, others argued that middle-mile and last-mile infrastructure are linked. In other words, if there’s no middle-mile, there can be no last-mile to fund either. “The last-mile and the middle-mile have a symbiotic relationship,” said one commentator.
Other attendees said that they do not feel like they are able to pick a particular side of the argument because the middle-mile needs to be better defined.
At the Digital Infrastructure Investment conference in Houston in September, Sunne Wright McPeak, president and CEO of the California Emerging Technology Fund, said stakeholders interested in expanding broadband rollout should focus on the last mile, the stretch of cable that connects the middle-mile to homes and businesses.
“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,” she said at the conference.
34 States Submit Letters of 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.”
States Should Use Treasury Department’s Broadband Funds to Compliment Infrastructure Bill
Director of the Capital Projects Fund said the fund should be used with infrastructure bill money to close broadband gaps.
WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 – States should use the Treasury Department’s Capital Projects Fund in conjunction with money from the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act to cover gaps in broadband service, said the CPF’s director on Wednesday.
With the release by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of funding application guidelines last week, states are focused on how they can access part of the $65 billion offered through the IIJA.
But CPF Director Joseph Wender said at a Broadband Breakfast Live Online event Wednesday that the CPF money is available right now to close the gaps in broadband coverage and will be most effective when used as a precursor to IIJA funds that will provide permanent solutions to coverage gaps. He suggested that states view IIJA funds as “complementary” to capital projects.
“We expect to make our first awards to those first states in a matter of weeks, potentially days,” said Wender. “The Capital Projects Fund is the tip of the spear in the administration’s goal of closing the digital divide.”
States are responsible to determine with local entities where the money will go, said Wender, provided the individual programs follow all Treasury Department requirements.
The CPF was instituted in March of 2021 as part of the American Rescue Plan Act in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted the need for communities to access high-speed internet.
It allocates $10 billion to the U.S. Department of Treasury for critical capital projects that directly enable work, education, and health monitoring. It is charged to get the money out to states as soon as possible to help the nation recover from the pandemic.
The money can be used for broadband infrastructure, digital connectivity technologies such as device programs to supply citizens with devices that connect to the internet or public Wi-Fi, and multi-purpose community facilities that are publicly available.
Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 12 Noon ET – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund and Broadband Infrastructure
The release of the U.S. Commerce Department’s rules on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act heightens the importance of inter-agency coordination on broadband projects. In this special Broadband Breakfast Live Online event, Joseph Wender, director of the Treasury Department’s Capital Projects Fund will speak with Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark about the role of the Treasury Department in broadband infrastructure spending.
- Joseph Wender, Director, U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund
- Drew Clark (presenter and host), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast
Joseph Wender currently serves as Director of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Capital Projects Fund. Wender previously served for nearly 13 years on Capitol Hill, most recently as Senator Ed Markey’s Senior Policy Advisor, where he led a team covering a wide range of issues including telecommunications and infrastructure. Wender also worked as then-Representative Markey’s Legislative Director. Prior to working for Markey, Wender served as Counsel for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He received his B.A. from Wesleyan University and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.
Drew Clark is the Editor and Publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally-respected telecommunications attorney. Drew brings experts and practitioners together to advance the benefits provided by broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he served as head of a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also the President of the Rural Telecommunications Congress.
As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.
State Broadband Offices Need to Increase Their Capacity, Improve Data, and Communicate Well
NTIA’s Evan Feinman spoke about what states need to keep in mind as they prepare for BEAD funds.
WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration webinar event on Tuesday focused on the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Notice of Funding Opportunity. The webinar highlighted three important items to keep in mind as states begin to receive money for broadband planning.
The first, according to Evan Feinman, deputy associate administrator for BEAD, was for states to consider your office’s capacity. Each state will receive a minimum of $100 million. Very few states have the human resources required to adequately run a program of this magnitude, he said.
The second is to build up research and data collections of broadband coverage at a state level. The Federal Communications Commission will soon release a new mapping system. It will be necessary, said Feinman, to “engage meaningfully” with these maps using state’s own research and data. Furthermore, states should have the necessary data to engage with internet service providers and the NTIA as they determine who is served and unserved.
Third, states should develop a clear-cut plan for outreach and communication support with stakeholders. Stakeholders include telecom providers, tribal governments, local governments, and community organizations.
The planning step is a great point for stakeholders to become involved in the process, said Feinman. “There is an expectation that lives throughout this program that folks are going to engage really thoroughly and in an outgoing way with their stakeholders.”
See other articles on the NTIA webinars issues in the wake of the Notices of Funding Opportunity on the Broadband.Money community:
- AT&T and DISH Agreement, FCC Adds More States in Robocall Fight, $50M from Emergency Connectivity Fund
- FCC Seeks Comment on Higher Broadband Speeds and Increased Security Measures for Certain Carriers
- Finance Experts Weigh Merging Regulatory Agencies to Tackle Cryptocurrencies
- 34 States Submit Letters of Intent to Participate in NTIA’s Main Broadband Program
- Red States May Oppose Affordability, Labor and Climate Policies Provided for in NTIA Broadband Rules
- States Should Use Treasury Department’s Broadband Funds to Compliment Infrastructure Bill
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