Ensuring that every household has access to high-speed, reliable Internet access is essential. With more than one-third of the U.S. population living in apartments, mobile homes, condominiums, and public housing, families that live in multi-family residential housing units (“MDU”) are no exception. As the National Telecommunications Information Administration begins to disburse funding for the new Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (“BEAD”), it should prioritize identifying unserved households in MDUs and quickly make resources available.
On March 17, 2022, Next Century Cities joined public interest allies in a letter authored by Education Superhighway to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. This letter highlighted the importance of connecting unserved MDUs and recommends a strategy for providing high-speed broadband access to these buildings. Additionally, reliance on Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) maps, new or old, will be insufficient to allow states to pinpoint unserved MDUs. The letter urges the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) to direct states to use the FCC maps only to determine whether a MDU is in a broadband serviceable area. Then states should use their own information to determine whether it is served.
A disproportionately large number of disconnected households living in MDUs could be overlooked due to faulty data. As the NTIA develops the rules for the BEAD Program, prioritizing these households can significantly help raise their ability to participate in a digital society.
Read the letter here.