KEYSTONE, Colorado, May 24, 2022 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is using all available tools to “pressure” states to allow municipal broadband to be used for infrastructure builds stemming from funding in the bipartisan infrastructure bill, agency head Alan Davidson said Tuesday.
Several states have laws prohibiting municipal broadband networks, which through its recently released notice of funding the NTIA is recommending be waived for upcoming infrastructure builds.
“We are gonna press states to make sure they are doing everything they can do under their laws to make, to be including those,” said Davidson.
Davidson’s comments came during an appearance at the annual Mountain Connect conference in Keystone, Colorado, during which he engaged in a question and answer session with Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark following his agency’s release of its funding notices.
He stated during the event that via its notices of funding the NTIA will be flexible on program requirements for states so that maximum progress on infrastructure may be made, yet at the same time it will establish a baseline of federal rules for programs.
“The needs of different states are going to be different,” said Davidson.
He also clarified that the NTIA will be assigning employees to each state who will be responsible for overseeing fund distribution to their state, that notices of funding are not inclusive of all NTIA guidance such as on supply chain issues and additional assistance will come from the agency over time, and that for many broadband providers in order for their infrastructure projects to be economically stable over time both unserved and underserved populations must benefit from the infrastructure bill.
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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