Connect with us

Broadband Mapping

NTIA Notice of Funding Opportunity on Infrastructure Bill Might Move to June

The timeline was provided by Associate Administrator Doug Kinkoph, although the agency plans to meet statutory deadlines.

Published

on

Photo of Associate Administrator Doug Kinkoph from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration

WASHINGTON, February 18, 2022 – An official at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration said this week that the agency’s notice of funding opportunity for the Digital Equity Act programs of the recently enacted bipartisan infrastructure bill may be released in mid-June.

The agency said that it plans to meet its statutorily-required deadline to issue a notice of funding opportunity for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program and the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program, by May 16.

Doug Kinkoph, the associate administrator of the agency’s Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth, outlined the timeline while speaking on a panel about infrastructure bill spending Tuesday during the National Association of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners’ Winter Policy Summit.

Kinkoph also made note that the NTIA is currently coordinating with the Federal Communications Commission on a weekly basis, and that the agency will actively be utilizing input from individual states to develop plans for disbursing the bill’s funding.

On Wednesday during a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee with the NTIA’s head Alan Davidson, Davidson said that he spoke with Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel on his second day in the job. They have been in “constant communication since then,” he said.

Infrastructure, supply chain issues, and ‘Build Back Better’

At the NARUC event prior to the panel on which Kinkoph spoke, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm spoke to NARUC’s audience virtually, championing President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda that includes the bipartisan infrastructure bill and components of the stalled Build Back Better Act.

Granholm highlighted the infrastructure bill’s investment in supply chain policy, particularly to address shortages of batteries, as one of its most important components at the moment amid ongoing supply chain woes.

She also emphasized the need for the government to be transparent in how it funds new builds provided for by the infrastructure bill, and encouraged any entities with intelligence on potential Russian cyberattack activities through the country’s continued offensive on Ukraine to communicate those concerns with the federal government.

Granholm offered her opinion that the president’s Build Back Better agenda will eventually be passed.

Still waiting for FCC broadband maps

“Having been at the FCC twice I feel honor-bound to apologize because the FCC has really screwed it up,” said Blair Levin, the former architect of the 2010 National Broadband Plan, and former chief of staff at the FCC during the Clinton administration.

“We’ve got to get going on this. But the FCC, at best, will have a map by this summer. There are a number of states that have done a much better job than the FCC of collecting data, and I think there are states that are way ahead of them. “Hopefully the FCC will be able to make up for a lot of lost time.”

Haren Rashes of ExteNet said independent companies and municipalities face challenges regarding broadband maps of their area, particularly when it comes to utility pole permits. Randy Clark, vice president of federal regulatory affairs at Lumen, said that he has promoted “the critical” role of state maps in his conversations with the FCC.

Municipalities and pole attachments

There are three different types of municipalities, said Rashes: 60 percent are considered “good”, 30 percent are difficult but “you can see a light at the end of the tunnel”, and 10 percent don’t care what the FCC says they should do.

This last group of cities have created their own way of doing it that ends in them charging the companies more than they should have.

Rick Cimerman, vice president of external and state affairs for the cable television and internet association NCTA, agreed with Rashes on the importance of access to telephone poles. He cited a story in which a co-op proposed an application processing rate for getting wires on poles that would take 14 years.

With utilities commissioners also attending panels throughout the summit, electric utilities and cooperatives were heralded as solution-providers where even the recent federal infrastructure programs may fail to provide for Americans.

In part, electric utilities and cooperatives’ involvement in the broadband sector is important because the electric sector attract more funding opportunities, panelists said.

Reporter T.J. York contributing to this article.

Correction (March 2, 2022): A prior version of this article incorrectly implied that the NTIA was delaying the notice of funding opportunity for the most substantial funding included in the bipartisan infrastructure legislation: The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program. Although the Digital Equity Act programs were also included in the infrastructure legislation, the law does not require their completion by May 16, 2022. The story has been corrected.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Broadband Mapping

FCC Challenge Process Important for Getting Accurate Maps, Says Technology Policy Institute

Better and more up-to-date information can come from harmonizing existing data sets, updated whenever a given map has new information.

Published

on

Screenshot of Scott Wallsten, president and senior fellow for the Technology Policy Institute.

WASHINGTON, September 19, 2022 – Errors in the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband maps are inevitable, but they can be iteratively mitigated through an ongoing challenge process, said Scott Wallsten, president and senior fellow for the Technology Policy Institute, at the Fiber Broadband Association’s Fiber for Breakfast livestream Wednesday.

The FCC made the preliminary version “fabric” map to state broadband entities and others earlier this year, and the agency will accept challenges thereto on a rolling basis that started on September 12.

The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program’s $42.5 billion will be distributed among the states based on the fabric’s data.

Wallsten’s joined Fiber for Breakfast to discuss a recently-published column, which identified three obstacles to the creation of accurate broadband maps in accordance with Congress’s statutory directions.

First, Wallsten argues, mapping efforts are out of date almost immediately because broadband infrastructure is constantly being built.

Second, he says that the immense amount of data needed for building-by-building broadband mapping ensures that errors will be committed.

Third, Wallsten writes, “Because money follows the maps, they are inherently political.” Wallsten said states have an incentive to overreport underserved areas to obtain more funding. FBA President and CEO Gary Bolton rejoined that such overreporting will likely be balanced by challenges from internet service providers, who have an incentive to overreport served areas to protect their existing service areas.

Wallsten says a collaborative, iterative process – like the FCC’s challenge process – is key: “Better and more up-to-date information can come from harmonizing existing data sets about internet access, updated whenever a given map has new information.”

This isn’t Wallsten’s first criticism of Washington’s mapping strategy. At TPI’s Aspen Conference last year, he told Broadband Breakfast that mapping errors led to many avoidable defaults on Rural Digital Opportunity Fund grants.

TPI also created the Broadband Connectivity Index, a dataset which maps the speed and availability of internet, as well as a detailed broadband map.

Continue Reading

Broadband Mapping

Utah’s Broadband Maps Are Ready for Federal Funding, Broadband Director Says

‘The efforts that have been done in the past have been a great foundation.’

Published

on

SALT LAKE CITY, July 13, 2022 – Utah’s work on its own broadband availability maps means it is prepared for billions in federal funds coming from the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, said the state’s broadband director at a Broadband Breakfast Live Online event Wednesday.

“The efforts that have been done in the past have been a great foundation,” said Rebecca Dilg, director of the Utah Broadband Center, the state’s broadband office.

Utah’s decade-old broadband availability maps are updated every six months and Dilg said they provide a foundation for upcoming money from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, the $42.5-billion initiative from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Utah counties work with the state broadband office to continually update a layer on the map that shows individual addresses, added Kelleigh Cole, director of strategic initiatives at the Utah Education Network, a state research network. This layer allows the broadband office to see whether broadband access extends to specific addresses.

Mapping data, said Dilg, prepares the state broadband office to address “doughnut holes” where urban centers receive high-speed coverage, but surrounding areas do not. The BEAD program requires that unserved residents are served first, but Utah’s broadband office is optimistic that the funds will reach into underserved areas, including cities where antiquated technology, like digital subscriber lines, are primarily used.

The Federal Communications Commission assured that its nationwide broadband coverage maps will be available by the fall. The Broadband Data Collection portal on the FCC website is currently open for internet providers and governments to submit coverage data.

Utah is home to the second largest city in the country fully connected to fiber, West Valley City, which is also the largest U.S. city connected via an open access network.

Screenshot of Rebecca Dilg, director of the Utah Broadband Center.

Continue Reading

Broadband Mapping

FCC Opens Broadband Data Collection Program

The data will go toward improved maps, which the FCC chair said will be available by the fall.

Published

on

Screenshot of Bill Price, vice president of government solutions for LightBox

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday officially opened its new system to collect broadband service information from over 2500 broadband providers.

The Broadband Data Collection “marks the beginning of [the FCC’s] window to collect location-by-location data from providers that we will use to build the map,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a press release.

Screenshot of Bill Price, vice president of government solutions for LightBox

Broadband providers will be required to provide availability claims and supporting data. Supporting data will include sections such as “propagation modeling information” and “link budget information.” The deadline to submit is September 1.

Rosenworcel said the agency has established consistent parameters that require broadband providers to submit data using geocoded locations that will “allow [the FCC] to create a highly precise picture of fixed broadband deployment, unlike previous data collections, which focused on census blocks, giving us inaccurate, incomplete maps.”

With this information, the FCC will build a common dataset of locations in the United States where fixed broadband service can be installed, called the “fabric.” Rosenworcel said that this fabric will serve as a “foundation upon which all fixed broadband availability data will be reported and overlaid in our new broadband availability maps.”

Following the completion of the maps, government entities and internet service providers will be given a challenge window where availability claims may be challenged based on submitted data.

Rosenworcel previously said that the improved broadband maps will be available by the fall.

States expect to be busy fact-checking these claims as they are released, said panelists at Broadband Breakfast Live Online Event Wednesday. States will be involved in individual challenging processes and will be expected to provide information on availability through individual speed testing.

States want to get these maps right because they serve as a broadband investment decision making tool, said Bill Price, vice president of government solutions for LightBox, a data platform that is helping states build broadband maps. That means many states are committed to obtaining accurate local coverage data to utilize federal and state funding.

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. Watch the event on Broadband Breakfast, or REGISTER HERE to join the conversation.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022, 12 Noon ET –Broadband Mapping and Data

Now that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Notice of Funding Opportunity has been released, attention turns to a core activity that must take place before broadband infrastructure funds are distributed: The Federal Communications Commission’s updated broadband maps. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as implemented by the NTIA’s Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, these address-level maps from the FCC will determine the allocation of funds among states and serve as a key source of truth. Our panelists will also consider the role of state-level maps, the NTIA challenge process and other topics. Join Broadband Breakfast as we return to one of the subjects that we know best: Broadband data and mapping.

Panelists:

  • Bill Price, Vice President, Government Solutions, LightBox
  • Dustin Loup, Program Manager, Marconi Society’s National Broadband Mapping Coalition
  • Ryan Guthrie, Vice President of Solutions Engineering at ATS
  • Drew Clark (moderator), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Panelist resources:

Bill Price, Vice President of Government Solutions, is responsible for LightBox broadband data and mapping solutions for government. Bill has more than 40 years in telecommunications and technology services development and operations. His track record includes delivering the Georgia statewide location level broadband map, the first fiber metropolitan area network in the U.S., and launching BellSouth’s internet service. LightBox combines proven, leading GIS and big data technology to transform how decisions are made in broadband infrastructure planning and investment.

Dustin Loup is an expert on internet governance and policy and program manager for the Marconi Society’s National Broadband Mapping Coalition. Much of his work centers on improving digital inclusion and establishing transparent, open-source, and openly verifiable mapping methodologies and standards.

Ryan Guthrie is VP of Solutions Engineering at Advanced Technologies & Services.  He started with ATS in 2006 and has been involved in all aspects of the business from sales and marketing through solution design and implementation.  Ryan also manages regulatory solutions for ATS and has been deeply involved with the federally funded broadband projects by assisting ISPs with their performance measures testing compliance.

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.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook.

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

Continue Reading

Signup for Broadband Breakfast

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

Broadband Breakfast Research Partner

Trending