100% Broadband Access in the US — The Time is Now

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In June 2023, President Joe Biden announced how more than $42 billion in Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) funding will be allocated across the US and its territories to bring 100% broadband access to nearly 60 million unserved or underserved Americans within five years. Now, the real work begins: determining how 50 states and six territories will put that funding to work. Despite the many funding initiatives aimed to solve the problem in the US, those finances are finite and currently trending in a “fiber-first” direction. Fiber is great where attainable, but this approach overlooks the important realities of providing reliable broadband to underserved areas at scale, which indicate that fiber alone would require far more funding than what is currently available. Thanks to recent technological advancements, there are new tools available that can efficiently and cost-effectively reach those forgotten by “fiber-first” thinking. Next-generation fixed wireless access is a unique technology category that overcomes two long-battled challenges of the wireless broadband industry:

  • Non-line-of-sight capabilities — the ability to maintain high performance despite physical obstacles, such as trees or buildings, between tower and home;
  • Interference cancellation — a feature that ensures reliable, high-speed service in crowded (even unlicensed) radio frequencies where there are interfering signals from other devices.

For the first time ever, we have what it takes to achieve 100% coverage with readily available funds, and in timelines measured in months rather than years. Opportunities of this magnitude don’t come around often. It is critical that the US, state governments, and key stakeholders work together to deliver reliable internet to those still impacted by the digital divide.

[Carl Guardino serves as the VP of Government Affairs & Policy at Tarana]

Carl Guardino: 100% Broadband Access in the US — The Time is Now