Each year, Congress recesses for the month of August. While the work—or, at least, the news—of Washington generally slows down in this period, all indications are that policymakers—and, most importantly, policy implementors—will be very busy throughout the summer of 2022 working on universal broadband and provisions of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Here's what we're seeing and expecting from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
Over 10 million people living in 5.2 million households rely on some form of federal rental assistance. Every household that receives federal public housing assistance is eligible to participate in the Federal Communications Commission's Lifeline program and, by extension, the FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
The Senate Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband held a hearing entitled Future of Spectrum to examine the management of spectrum. The Federal Communications Commission's spectrum auction authority is set to expire at the end of September. Congress has a unique opportunity to set future spectrum priorities and coordination goals to encourage efficient spectrum use. The hearing aimed to examine important policy considerations to ensure spectrum is utilized for the greatest benefit to the public.
On July 14, the U.S. Department of the Treasury approved the plans of Kansas, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota to use Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund support to help close the digital divide. Combined with the approval of Louisiana's, New Hampshire's, Virginia's, and West Virginia's plans in June, Treasury has announced nearly $1 billion in support to connect nearly 250,000 locations in the eight states.
People living in rural Kansas have been concerned about their lack of access to reliable broadband for over 20 years. As part of a second wave of Capital Projects Fund awards, Kansas will receive $83.5 million from the US Department of the Treasury to increase access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. According to BroadbandNow, 15 percent of households in Kansas have no access to the internet. Kansas ranks 35th among states in internet coverage, speed and availability.
According to U.S. News & World Report, New Hampshire is 10th overall in access to broadband, But the state ranks 35th for data speed. BroadbandNow estimates that only 30 percent of the state has access to fiber-optic service and only about 7 percent has access to 1-gig service. On June 7, 2022, the U.S.
The Senate's Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband convened an oversight hearing on the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and its implementation of the broadband programs in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson was the sole witness. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides $65 billion in funding to connect all Americans to affordable, reliable high-speed internet.
In October 2021, Governor Jim Justice (R-WV) announced a billion-dollar strategy to bring broadband access to 200,000 homes and businesses in West Virginia. “We’ve been talking for years about how to fix the rural broadband problem. Now we’re finally going to do it," he said. The plan got a $136 million boost from the U.S.
Louisiana is aiming to close the digital divide in the state by 2029. Getting there could cost over $1 billion. This week, the state partnered with the U.S. Department of Treasury to help reach that goal. On June 7, Treasury approved Louisiana for $176.7 million of support from the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund (CPF).
On July 2, 2018, then-Governor Ralph Northam (D-VA) announced that the Commonwealth of Virginia should achieve functionally universal broadband coverage within 10 years. Reaching that goal would be no easy feat. At the time, Virginia was investing just $4 million a year into its broadband program and 660,000 Virginians did not have access to high-speed internet. This week, Virginia's efforts got a big boost when the U.S. Department of Treasury approved nearly $220 million to support broadband deployment projects in the Commonwealth.