House Commerce Committee questions National Telecommunications and Information Administration's Alan Davidson on Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment
'Tis the season for the House Commerce Committee to hold oversight hearings of federal telecommunications agencies. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) Alan Davidson took the hot seat, answering questions on implementation of the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, spectrum policy and more. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) was a recurring topic of discussion throughout the hearing, and one Assistant Secretary Davidson raised in his opening statement. The issue of the ACP running out of funds, and the impact that will have on BEAD, was raised by multiple Democrats on the committee, including Rep Yvette Clarke (D-NY), who recently said that she intends to introduce standalone legislation to fund the program by the end of 2023. Assistant Secretary Davidson also reiterated that the BEAD program will still adhere to tech neutrality, as required by the infrastructure law, but would prioritize "fiber first" where possible. Multiple Republicans on the committee raised concerns about how the BEAD program may or may not subject participating providers to "rate regulation" via state plans. While Assistant Secretary Davidson confirmed the NTIA will not engage in rate regulation at the federal level, as is prohibited, he would not commit to rejecting state plans that set a low-cost plan requirement.
House questions NTIA's Davidson on BEAD, spectrum