NTCA Answers Senator Thune's (R-SD) Inquiry on Broadband Programs
January 20, 2023
In response to Sen. John Thune's (R-SD) oversight letter on issues concerning federal broadband programs, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association writes:
- On a technology-neutral approach: All technologies are eligible to participate in the BEAD program; there is nothing in the BEAD program Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to the contrary. Not all technologies are equally capable, however, and it does not violate a principle of “technological neutrality” to take stock of and account for the relative attributes and limitations of different technologies as demonstrated in the marketplace;
- On using unionized labor: Congress and/or [the National Telecommunication and Information Administration] NTIA should consider how best to remove or otherwise substantially modify this requirement.
- On promoting government-owned networks: Despite the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act's (IIJA) purported neutrality regarding the type of provider eligible for a sub-grant, the NOFO promotes government-owned networks by imposing burdensome requirements on eligible entities and pressures states to waive laws that place restrictions on government-owned networks, even if the restrictions predate IIJA enactment;
- On broadband policy issues for the 118th Congress: NTCA encourages Congress to remain mindful of the potential concerns raised by several currently pending federal lawsuits challenging the constitutionality and legality of the congressional delegation of authority to the FCC to collect contributions in support of its critical USF mission. To the extent that any of these challenges were successful, the FCC’s ability to carry out the congressionally mandated purpose of universal service will be at risk – with rural consumers and the community-based providers that serve them, schools, libraries, low-income consumers, and rural health care providers all suffering catastrophic loss of access to support mechanisms that are critical to connectivity. If a court decision undermines these essential mechanisms, Congress will need to act quickly to ensure that services will not fail and that rates will not increase exponentially for rural communities and users of all kinds across the nation.
NCTA Answers Senator Thune's (R-SD) Inquiry on Broadband Programs