It’s a central concern looming over the broadband industry as it prepares for a massive infusion of federal funds for infrastructure deployment: Will the providers of fiber optic networks be required to use equipment that is not readily available within the United States?
In mid-January, the Fiber Broadband Association sent a letter to Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Media and Broadband, about an issue the group said was “harming project planning and investment.”
The letter was referring to the Build America, Buy America statute in the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, legislation signed in November 2021 that carved out $65 billion for broadband. The domestic preference provision requires that American-made materials make up the majority of the costs of projects using federal funds, which the FBA flagged as a possible problem that will require additional waivers to ensure the timely buildout of infrastructure.
Learn more in the exclusive Broadband Breakfast Club Report for February 2023.
The allocation of billions of dollars of broadband infrastructure money is contingent on the big update to the broadband map of the Federal Communications Commission, which has set Jan. 13, 2023, as the deadline for challenges to a preliminary version released on Nov. 18, 2022. That deadline is intended to set a timeline for the version of the map — after challenges — that will guide the NTIA in divvying out to the states by this June 30 the $42.5 billion from the BEAD Program.
As cities raise issues with the current difficulty of putting together adequate resources to accurately challenge the map in time for a January deadline that even the NTIA head said made him feel “uncomfortable,” and as states grapple with conflicts between their mapping contractor and the FCC’s, Broadband Breakfast has laid out the things to know about the challenge process and a summary of how we got here in the exclusive Broadband Breakfast Club Report for January 2023.