Monday, April 11, 2022
Headlines Daily Digest
Stories From Abroad
The Digital Equity Education Roundtables (DEER) Initiative, led through a partnership between the Office of Educational Technology (OET) at the US Department of Education and Digital Promise, encourages every learner and community to be equipped with connected devices, learning content, digital literacy skills, technical support, and a reliable, high-speed internet connection. Thus far, the digital equity field has learned the following insights, which impact learners and communities in varying ways:
- Awareness and understanding of available programs and resources is critical.
- Access to available programs and resources can be challenging.
- Trust between learner communities and services is essential.
- Building digital readiness and digital literacy among learners and communities can support adoption.
The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau, in conjunction with the FCC's Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force, announced that the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), has posted the total locations deployed to by Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) Auction support recipients, reflecting deployment as of December 31, 2021. The data is available here and reflects the number of locations (257,886 total) certified in the High Cost Universal Broadband (HUBB) portal as of March 7, 2022 that are receiving broadband through this program. CAF II Auction support recipients are required to deploy to 40% of model locations by December 31, 2022, and some providers have already met the initial deployment requirement. As part of FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel’s Rural Broadband Accountability Plan (RBAP), the Bureau has separately sent letters to each company that has not yet reported deployment in an authorized state. The Bureau has asked these companies to explain in detail the steps underway to ensure their compliance with the initial 40% deployment milestone by December 31, 2022.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) represents a historic commitment to support those most impacted by COVID-19. While the legislation itself embodied this commitment in numerous ways, the key to the success of the ARP’s programs lies in their implementation. The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Recovery Programs has worked closely with the White House and across federal agencies to execute a coordinated strategy to support people in underserved communities across the country. In recognition of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on Tribal communities and their challenges regarding lack of access to reliable and fast broadband, Treasury has implemented increased training assistance on use of funds and reporting to support Tribal government compliance. The Capital Projects Fund is providing $10 billion to eligible governments to carry out critical capital projects that directly enable work, education, and health monitoring, with a focus on expanding access to and affordability of broadband services. These investments, which are beginning in 2022, represent the first phase of the Administration’s comprehensive approach to improving broadband access across the country, work that will especially help rural and low-income communities access new economic opportunities.
The Department of Commerce has a number of programs that provide support to rural communities across the country in expanding rural broadband and supporting rural environments and climate resilience. Thanks to President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Department of Commerce has made historic investments in rural communities through a host of new and existing programs. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has several programs that support the deployment of broadband infrastructure, reduce the cost of internet service, promote digital inclusion and promote broadband adoption, and advance equity to ensure that all individuals and communities, including rural communities, can access the internet to reap the full benefits of our digital economy. NTIA programs will consider current and future climate impacts, with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to help improve longevity of the infrastructure. This fact sheet provides information for rural communities to know all the available resources under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, where to apply, or how find more information.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) should prioritize funding for fiber broadband in rules for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, said NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association and the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) in a letter to Alan Davidson, head of NTIA, which will be administering the BEAD program in conjunction with individual states. NTCA and FBA recommendations for the BEAD program include:
- The program should fund all unserved locations first before approving any funding for underserved locations
- The program should not favor a certain type of provider, a comment apparently aimed at preventing NTIA from prioritizing projects involving public entities
- Preference should be given to service providers that commit to obtaining a substantial take rate within a reasonable time after service is launched and providers should be required to reach out in their communities to “assist in-need consumers in understanding the value of and uses for broadband service – and in helping them subscribe.”
- Competent providers and platforms with proven track records should be selected
On February 25, 2022, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced the grantees which will receive a collective total of $277 million in Broadband Infrastructure Program funding. NTIA has since published further information on the 13 Broadband Infrastructure Program grantees. What sets the Broadband Infrastructure Program apart from other federal funding initiatives is its focus on "covered partnerships" as recipients of its funding–that is, a public-private partnership between a state or subdivision(s) of a state and a provider of fixed broadband service. This article highlights the awards given to 5 states and 1 US territory–Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Washington, and Guam–offering a closer look at each grantees’ identified needs and broadband deployment objectives.
Benton (www.benton.org) provides the only free, reliable, and non-partisan daily digest that curates and distributes news related to universal broadband, while connecting communications, democracy, and public interest issues. Posted Monday through Friday, this service provides updates on important industry developments, policy issues, and other related news events. While the summaries are factually accurate, their sometimes informal tone may not always represent the tone of the original articles. Headlines are compiled by Kevin Taglang (headlines AT benton DOT org) and Grace Tepper (grace AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.
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