NCTA: American Rescue Plan Funds Should Not Favor Government Nets

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While cable broadband operators are okay with most of the Treasury Department's framework for handing out billions of dollars in broadband deployment and adoption funds via the American Rescue Plan, prioritizing government owned or operated networks remains a point of contention. When the Treasury sought public input on the framework, NCTA-The Internet and Television Association said there could be limited circumstances to allow them--where there is insufficient business case for any private capital to build out--but a blanket priority for government nets should be off the table. NCTA suggested that the Treasury should instead encourage public-private partnerships, especially when there are private companies ready and willing to enter such partnerships and deliver the requisite services. If the money does go to government nets, NCTA said the Treasury should ensure that a government net:

  • Does not exercise regulatory, legislative, or other governmental functions, and does not receive favored treatment for use of the public rights of way and/or access to utility poles;
  • Complies in full with all of the legal requirements applicable to private sector providers of broadband service;
  • Establishes safeguards to prevent the cross-subsidization of such ventures through the use of taxpayer funds or obtaining credit in reliance on the government entity’s taxing authority; and
  • Is prohibited from bundling broadband with other municipal services.

NCTA: Biden Broadband Bucks Should Not Favor Government Nets