Next Century Cities Connects Local Officials with the NTIA

When the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”) was signed into law, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) was tasked with distributing 48 billion dollars to expand broadband availability nationwide. Since then, the NTIA has hosted webinars and listening sessions to help state and local officials understand how these new programs can support local broadband plans. 

On February 22nd, NCC hosted a listening session with NTIA officials and local and state leaders representing 24 municipalities and three states in attendance. NTIA’s Broadband Program Specialist Julia Pulidindi explained each program’s objectives and highlighted the nuances of particular interest to state and local officials. She asked local officials if they were connected with their state broadband contacts and about strategies being used to identify their community’s broadband needs. Pulidindi noted that the IIJA requires states to coordinate with local governments. The process for making those contacts and engaging with other on-the-ground stakeholders must begin now. 

Local officials shared specific concerns and insights on topics such as managing city,county, and regional partnerships. The discussion illustrated the ongoing need for clear communication and active contacts to liaise between federal, state and local governments. Municipal leaders reiterated the need for federal support in working with states, especially where there is no state broadband office. They also expressed concerns about state broadband offices with reduced capacity to support local leaders as some offices must be created while simultaneously crafting state grant programs.

Finally, local officials urged the NTIA to be explicit with states that IIJA funding should  be used to support urban and rural areas. Several local officials shared concerns that once money is distributed to the states, it would only be invested into rural broadband deployment, putting urban areas that need resources for adoption strategies at a disadvantage. 

If your community has concerns, ideas, insights, or questions to share with the NTIA, email them directly at BroadbandForAll@ntia.gov.

Watch the recording here.

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