NTIA's Alan Davidson answers 5 burning broadband funding questions

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National Telecommunications and Information Administration chief Alan Davidson spoke at the Mountain Connect conference about broadband infrastructure investment. He expects NTIA to start doling out grant money later this year, though likely not from the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program quite yet because it is tied to the availability of new broadband coverage maps from the Federal Communications Commission. Davidson noted that some have misinterpreted the BEAD rules as treating unserved and underserved locations the same, but that’s a mistake. Covering unserved areas is still top priority, but he explained that those states which can demonstrate in their broadband plans that they will reach all the unserved will also be able to use funding for underserved areas as well. Davidson said he expects satellite and other non-fiber technologies will receive plenty of funding. There have been plenty of concerns about whether BEAD will fuel overbuilding of areas set to be covered by the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, especially given the decision to classify areas covered with unlicensed spectrum and satellite as unserved. But Davidson said the NTIA's guidelines were specifically designed to avoid penalizing states for money that’s expected for deployments which haven’t been built yet. But there will be a screening process to avoid overbuilding

NTIA chief answers 5 burning broadband funding questions