Industry and worker groups talk takeaways from $45 billion broadband funding notice

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Experts from three key industry and worker groups dished on what they view as the key hits and misses in the US government’s broadband policy after the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) issued rules that will guide the distribution of $45 billion in funding for network rollouts. Among other things, they spotlighted a focus on fiber, secure networks, state planning grants and workforce provisions. Fiber Broadband Association CEO Gary Bolton hailed the government’s decision to prioritize funding for fiber projects, pointing to this as a “very clear statement” that fiber is a “transformative” technology. Bolton added the rules left a few others threads that fiber opponents are likely to start pulling, such as states being able to define the threshold for extreme high-cost locations. This will open the door for less expensive alternatives to fiber to be deployed in areas where the project cost is over the threshold. But Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) VP of Government Affairs Melissa Newman “wasn’t thrilled” by NTIA's decision to classify areas covered only by satellite or unlicensed spectrum-based services as unserved, and countered that there will be parts of the country where it’s just not feasible to deploy fiber. Meanwhile, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) highlighted workforce provisions, noting entities receiving federal funding will need to report whether they plan to use a unionized workforce and verify that non-unionized workers have the appropriate training and certifications.

FBA, TIA, CWA talk takeaways from $45B broadband funding notice