Tennessee Lawmakers Urge NTIA to Reconsider Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program Fiber Preference

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Sens Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) wrote to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Administrator Alan Davidson and stressed that broadband deployment grants should be technology neutral. The message is consistent with what NATE: the Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association, the Wireless Infrastructure Association, Competitive Carriers Association and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association have been advocating for. NTIA recently began accepting applications for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. Its language says NTIA will prioritize fiber projects. “NTIA states that only fiber technology can achieve the scalability needed to meet the evolving needs of consumers over time, as well as to ‘support the deployment of 5G, successor wireless technologies, and other advanced services,’” wrote Blackburn and Hagerty in their letter. They also stress that technology neutrality has been the basis for funding distributed by the Federal Communications Commission, such as with the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The senators urged NTIA to reconsider, saying that a fiber-first rule makes no sense for much of rural America.

Tennessee Lawmakers Urge NTIA to Reconsider BEAD Fiber Preference