WASHINGTON, April 26, 2022 – The success of the program dedicated to distributing $42.5 billion to states from the infrastructure bill will depend on the work that states do, reiterated the head of the agency tasked with managing the money.
“Their [the states] success is our success,” Alan Davidson, head of the Commerce department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, said Monday at a legislative and policy conference hosted by the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association.
“The only way this program is going to succeed is if all of the states are successful in these grant programs,” he added. “And we know from previous experience that different states are in different stages.”
Monday’s event was attended, in person, by rural broadband officers and providers from across the country who are working with federal entities like the NTIA to line up the funding from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program, which was created out of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act. The NTIA is preparing to make public a notice of funding opportunity next month, as it also awaits updated mapping from the Federal Communications Commission that is expected to identify areas of the country that are in need of broadband infrastructure.
Davidson said the “the biggest thing” his agency will do to support the states is hire and train individuals at the NTIA to support the states, including with technical assistance and the actual process of building the infrastructure in communities. It is a sentiment that he has been pressing as guest speaker at events including Broadband Breakfast’s fireside chat, in which Davidson said his agency is on standby to support the states.
“There will be a person at the NTIA that every state knows is their person,” Davidson said Monday. “So, if they have a question, there’s somebody who they can call. There will be somebody at the NTIA that wakes up each day and thinks about the success of that state,” said Davidson, who also noted that his administration is currently in the process of hiring such individuals.
“They [the states] are going to be our key partners and they’re going to have to work with the local communities. Building out our capacity, our muscles, to help the states build their muscles, is I think probably one of the most important things we can do as a program,” said Davidson.
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel Emphasizes 100 Percent Broadband Adoption
‘It’s about making sure wireless connections are available in 100 percent of rural America,’ said the chairwoman.
PARK CITY, Utah, June 28, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission is making progress towards bringing “affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband to 100 percent of the country,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said at the Rural Wireless Infrastructure Summit here on Tuesday.
Rosenworcel pointed to the $65 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act now being deployed across the country, with a particular focus on unconnected rural and tribal areas.
Although the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration will take the lead with these funds, the FCC’s new broadband coverage maps will be important in implementing state digital equity plans.
In her remarks, Rosenworcel also discussed how the upcoming 2.5 GigaHertz spectrum auction will involve licensing spectrum primarily to rural areas.
At the July FCC open meeting, said Rosenworcel, the agency is scheduled to establish a new program to help enhance wireless competition. It is called the Enhanced Competition Incentive Program.
The program aims to build incentives for existing carriers to build opportunities for smaller carriers and tribal nations through leasing or partitioning spectrum. Existing carriers will be rewarded with longer license terms, extensions on build-out obligations, and more flexibility in construction requirements.
“It’s about making sure wireless connections are available in 100 percent of rural America,” she said.
She also indicated her commitment to work with Congress to fund the FCC’s “rip and replace” program to reimburse many rural operators’ transitions from Chinese-manufactured telecommunications equipment. She also touted the role that open radio access networks can plan in more secure telecommunications infrastructure.
In other news at the conference, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr addressed the role of funding broadband operations in rural America, the challenges of workforce training, and ensuring that rural carriers have access to high-cost universal service support.
In a session moderated by AmeriCrew CEO Kelley Dunne, panelists from the U.S. Labor Department, the Wireless Infrastructure Association and Texas A&M Extension Education Services addressed the need to offer a vocational career path for individuals for whom a four-year degree may not be the right choice. AmeriCrew helps U.S. military veterans obtain careers in building fiber, wireless and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark contributed to this report.
5G Will Help Enhance Environment Protection and Sustainability, Conference Hears
The technology has already been used by companies to monitor and make more efficient systems to reduce emissions.
WASHINGTON, June 28, 2022 – Because of its facilitation of real-time monitoring and more efficient use of systems, 5G technology will help tackle climate change and beef up environmental sustainability, an Information Technology and Innovation Foundation event heard Tuesday.
5G technology’s ubiquitous connectivity and lower latency enables climate technology that decarbonizes manufacturing plants, enables rainforest monitoring, and limits greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.
5G also enables real-time traffic control and monitoring that can help minimize carbon footprint, said John Hunter from T-Mobile, which has a large 5G network thanks in part to its merger with Sprint.
Finnish 5G equipment supplier Nokia has invested in smart manufacturing relying on the speed of 5G in its plants, which it said has resulted in a 10 to 20 percent carbon dioxide reduction and a 30 percent productivity improvement with 50 percent reduction in product defects.
Non-profit tech startup Rainforest Connection has used 5G technology to implant sensitive microphones into endangered rainforests in over 22 countries around the world. These microphones pick up on sounds in the forest and transmit them in real time to personnel on the ground.
These highly sensitive machines are camouflaged in trees and can pick up sounds of gunfire from poaching and chainsaws from illegal logging activity from miles away. The technology has proven to be significant in rainforest conservation and will enable researchers and scientists to find innovative solutions to help endangered species as they study the audio.
“By being able to integrate technologies such as 5G, we can accelerate that process… to achieve the mission [of mitigating climate change effects] sooner than we expected,” said Rainforest Connection CEO Bourhan Yassin.
Make More Unlicensed Spectrum Available for Increasing Demand for Wi-Fi Use: Panelists
Conference hears the FCC should seek spectrum bands to open up for unlicensed use.
WASHINGTON, June 27, 2022 – Experts said at a WiFiForward event last week that there should be more carve-outs for unlicensed spectrum to tackle growing demand for connections and relieve congestion on existing frequencies.
Unlicensed spectrum is a set of frequencies that are not restricted to specific entities and may be used by nearly any device. Wi-Fi devices are most commonly found on unlicensed spectrum frequencies.
“We need a lot more [spectrum],” said Alan Inouye from the American Library Association at the event on June 21. New Wi-Fi devices and a growing number of consumers is driving up the demand for unlicensed spectrum, she said.
Kathleen Burke from internet advocacy group Public Knowledge added that, “[Unlicensed Spectrum] plays a critical role in allowing us to have innovative technology that advances our telecommunications opportunities while at the same time providing affordable opportunities to connect.”
Because spectrum is a finite resource, Burke suggested exploring using the 7 Ghz band to expand the spectrum frequencies.
“Do inventory,” said Burke, “and find out what the next bands are based on actual data about what is occupying the current bands and what is available out there today.”
Deb Collier from Citizens Against Government Waste suggested that the Federal Communication Commission lengthen its auction authority to auction out specific spectrum frequencies and provide more space in bands for unlicensed use.
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