You can find a PDF of this press release here.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Brittany-Rae Gregory
February 4, 2022
Washington, D.C. (February 4, 2022) – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) issued a request for public comment on implementing broadband programs established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The programs include the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program, the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, and the Digital Equity Acts Programs.
Next Century Cities submitted comments focusing on ways for IIJA funded programs to address persistent digital divides. Local leaders emphasized the following points:
- The NTIA must make an effort to consult with communities beyond those in its current domain.
- IIJA funding should be aimed at developing broadband access and adoption solutions that meet the scope and depth of deficiencies nationwide.
- Grant rules that encourage new ideas and unconventional partnerships will be required to reach largely disconnected communities.
- New broadband subscriptions in previously unserved areas and how many consumers have enrolled in BEAD-sponsored low-cost programs are two examples of data the NTIA must collect in order to measure success.
- Digital skills training should be a permissible use for BEAD funding.
- Eligibility for a BEAD-sponsored low-cost program should mirror the eligibility criteria for the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program, ensuring that any new low-cost broadband plan will be eligible for subsidy through the ACP.
Ryan Johnston, Policy Counsel for Federal Programs at Next Century Cities, offered the following remarks:
“The Infrastructure, Investment, and Jobs Act provides an unprecedented amount of funding to help connect communities that have historically been overlooked to get connected. In order for the BEAD and other IIJA programs to succeed, the NTIA must reach out to the communities that are outside of its traditional orbit. It’s here that NTIA will find the unique and innovative solutions being developed and tested by local governments. Utilizing input from these communities will strengthen the NTIA’s expertise, presenting new and interesting ways to solve a decades-old problem.
“Some communities may not be able to tackle this challenge by themselves. And some unconventional partnerships, born of the COVID pandemic, may not survive without federal funding. That is why the NTIA must take bold actions that embrace innovative solutions. Continuing to do things the way they’ve always been done will lead to more of the same slow incremental progress.”
The NTIA is also collecting input from stakeholders through a series of public virtual listening sessions. Local leaders and residents can sign up for those sessions on February 9th and February 23rd here.