WASHINGTON, April 14, 2022 — The head of the Commerce Department agency responsible for more than $43 billion in federal broadband infrastructure funding says the Biden administration won’t be satisfied until every American has not cheap, high-bandwidth Internet access at 100 megabits per second (Mbps) download and 20 Mpbs upload.
Speaking at a Broadband Breakfast Club event on Wednesday, the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Alan Davidson said that to truly close the digital divide, state commitment and leadership was needed to maximize federal funding.
Money coming from the NTIA through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act should be flexible, including significant private contributions to projects.
“We expect there to be flexibility,” Davidson said of how much private communications companies and state funding should spend on projects. “The status gives them that flexibility. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution at all.”
The IIJA — which gives the NTIA $42.5 billion to split among the states — requires network operators to match at least 25% of project costs funded by the commerce agency. Equity, Access and Broadband Deployment program. But states might require more than a 25% match, Davidson said.
“There are a lot of people out there who — if you just give them a little more support — would be willing to do this next deployment,” Davidson said. Much of the funding won in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction will go to companies that have pledged to cover at least 50% of project costs, he noted.
“We’ve been talking about bridging the digital divide in this country for over two decades,” he said, recommending states “contact” the NTIA for guidance.
“When this project is complete, everyone in America will have access to affordable high-speed broadband,” Davidson said, referring specifically to the 100 Mbps x 20 Mbps definition of high-speed broadband in the IIJA.
Davidson also said that “there is a need for political leadership to engage [and] to understand the importance of [the IIJA].
“One of the main areas we invest in is the people we will be working with in the United States,” he said. “Broadband offices in the states are going to be the primary frontline for much of this work.”
The NTIA has requested comments on the IIJA, with the due date being February 4. She plans to seek additional feedback later for the state’s Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program and Competitive Digital Equity Grant Program.
See questions for Alan Davidson at Broadband.Money Community.
Join the broadband grant community by welcoming a special guest Alan Davidsonhead of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
High speed breakfast Drew Clark will welcome Alan for a fireside chat. Broadband.silver will also preview its platform for research, development, reporting and compliance of broadband grant applications. Hear Alan’s vision for the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program, as well as $1 billion for Intermediate Funding, $3 billion for Tribal Funding Programs, and the interplay between the BEAD and the Affordable Connectivity Program. Get their perspective on important issues, such as:
- What does success look like?
- What’s the timeline from here?
- Will states view the 25% match requirement as a cap or a floor?
- How should local governments, infrastructure providers and builders – public and private – prepare while waiting for maps and plans from the state?
And more. If you have any questions for Alan before the event, please post them in the Broadband.Money Community. We will do our best to engage them in the discussion.
Guests for this Broadband Breakfast for Lunch session:
- Alan DavidsonAssistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and Trustee of NTIA
- Drew Clark (Host), Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast
Alan Davidson is an internet policy expert with over 20 years of experience as an executive, public interest advocate, technologist and lawyer. He was most recently Senior Advisor to the Mozilla Foundation, a global nonprofit organization that promotes openness, innovation, and participation on the Internet. He was previously vice president of global policy, trust and safety at Mozilla, where he led public policy and privacy teams promoting an open internet and a healthy web. Alan served in the Obama-Biden administration as the first Director of Digital Economy at the US Department of Commerce. He launched Google’s public policy office in Washington, D.C., leading government relations and policy in North and South America for seven years until 2012. Alan is a longtime leader of the internet community with purpose nonprofit, as director of the Open Technology Institute of New America. where he worked to promote equitable broadband access and adoption. As Associate Director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, Alan was an advocate for civil liberties and human rights online in some of the earliest Internet policy debates. Alan currently resides with his family in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale Law School, and is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia.
Drew Clark is the editor and publisher of BroadbandBreakfast.com and a nationally respected telecommunications attorney. Drew brings together experts and practitioners to advance the benefits offered by broadband. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, he spearheaded a State Broadband Initiative, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois. He is also president of the Congress of Rural Telecommunications.
This Broadband Breakfast for Lunch event is co-organized with:
Photo by Commuter Benefits used with permission
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides a number of programs that, in total, provide $65 billion for broadband infrastructure investment. Part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed 69-30 last year, the measure has the promise of promoting an “infrastructure decade” for the United States, President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address. We are delighted that the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Alan Davidson, the assistant secretary of commerce, accepted our invitation to speak on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. In this second session of this series Broadband Breakfast for Lunch, Broadband Breakfast and Broadband.Money will explore what the federal government, states and infrastructure builders – public and private – should do to prepare for the Broadband Equity grant program, Access and Deployment.
As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place Wednesday at 12:00 PM ET.
Check out the full list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.