Anniversary of Infrastructure Act, Gigi Sohn Has a Real Shot at FCC, West Haven Approves Utopia

It is exactly one year since the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act became law.

Anniversary of Infrastructure Act, Gigi Sohn Has a Real Shot at FCC, West Haven Approves Utopia
Photo of Gigi Sohn from September 2012 by Joel Sage used with permission

November 15, 2022 – Tuesday marks the first anniversary of the President Joe Biden administration’s Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act becoming law, which dedicates billions toward broadband infrastructure across the United States.

Since becoming law last November, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration has crafted rules for the programs spawned by the $65 billion of dedicated investment in broadband from the legislation, including the $42.5 billion for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program; the $1 billion for the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband infrastructure program; and the $2.75 billion in Digital Equity Act programs.

“Thousands more [infrastructure] projects will be added in the coming months, as funding opportunities become grant awards and as formula funds direct states to become specific projects,” a White House “map of progress” webpage said, which claims over $185 billion worth of infrastructure projects have been announced so far.

The White House webpage shows an interactive map that identifies total funding amounts by state as of October 2022.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, who played a major role in the introduction of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, retained his seat in the Senate after the midterm election last week.

Gigi Sohn has chance as FCC commissioner

With the Democrats having at least 50 seats in the Senate after last week’s midterm elections, financial analysts at an investment research firm said they have reason to believe Democrat and net neutrality advocate Gigi Sohn will be voted in as the Federal Communications Commission’s fifth commissioner by the upper house, according to reporting by Light Reading on Monday.

“We now believe it is likely that a third Democratic commissioner joins the [Federal Communications] Commission, either through a vote in the lame-duck session (in which case it will be the current nominee Gigi Sohn) or sometime in the first few months of 2023,” the New Street analysts wrote in a recent report to investors, according to Light Reading.

“The current FCC proceeding on the digital discrimination issue will gain greater importance, as a Democratic majority will be more likely to highlight ISP actions with disparate impacts, even if the FCC’s ability to mandate different ISP behavior is, in our view, limited,” New Street Research wrote, according to Light Reading.

The Senate vote to confirm Gigi Sohn has stalled for over a year, despite her nomination by the Biden administration in October 2021. Some Republican critics have expressed concerned that Sohn won’t be able to remain non-partisan on the issues she would encounter as a commissioner.

The Democrats can secure another seat in the Senate if Georgia Democrat Raphael Warnock beats Republican challenger Herschel Walker in that state’s runoff election on December 6.

West Haven City, Utah, approves UTOPIA Fiber build

City council in West Haven City, Utah, have voted unanimously to approve the building of a $17.6-million city-wide high-speed broadband network by Utah-based service provider UTOPIA Fiber, the company announced on Monday.

“I applaud West Haven City’s leaders for granting us approval to move forward in providing fast and reliable broadband service to every home and business in the city. As we have seen elsewhere throughout the pandemic, having this service is essential in how we live and function, which has only increased its demand and need.” said UTOPIA Fiber Executive Director Roger Timmerman.

In a customer survey issued by the Utah-based fiber company, results found that 43 percent of respondents chose the gigabit speeds or higher, with 95.8 percent saying internet speed was either “extremely important (64.94%) or “very important (27.7%),” according to the results.

UTOPIA Fiber creates networks that are open access, meaning it allows other service providers to ride on its network to deliver services.

UTOPIA Fiber is a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast.

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