Route Fifty

Dear State and Local Gov: FCC Chair Ajit Pai Is Just Not That Into You

 If Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai was trying to signal the dismissal of the role of state and local governments in broadband and other key telecommunications issues, the past few months couldn’t have been a clearer indication. Since November, Chairman Pai has attracted concerned letters from members of Congress, major national organizations representing local governments and members of internal advisory committees.

Without federal internet subsidies, state efforts to offer low-cost broadband could be impacted

According to state broadband officials in Michigan, Vermont and Pennsylvania, the termination of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) could not only impact the 23 million households on the program, but also those who live in areas where broadband is being built out. In Michigan, for instance, the state wants to require broadband companies receiving grants under the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program to charge lower-income people no more than $30 a month.

States, feds at odds over low-cost broadband option

States and the federal government may agree that the expansion of broadband service around the country funded with $42.5 billion from the infrastructure act should be affordable for low-income people. But at least one state doesn’t agree that it should be dictating what’s affordable. After reviewing Virginia’s plan for its Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment funding, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration told the state it needed to be more specific.

States consider capping the cost of broadband for low-income families

Dozens of states appear to be set to cap how much broadband providers can charge low-income households.

Could the feds withhold broadband funding to some states?

conflict between state and federal laws may delay the first distribution of Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program funds to the states. Sixteen states bar or restrict municipally owned broadband—and nearly all of those states appear unwilling to amend their laws as they finalize plans for how they will use their share of BEAD funds.

Higher minimum broadband speeds reflect internet’s growth

The last time the Federal Communications Commission raised the standard for broadband, the internet was a much different place. Most people were still commuting to work, relying on their employer’s high-speed internet connection.

How cities can navigate their state’s broadband preemption laws

When state preemption laws on municipal broadband expansion are too restrictive, local leaders should learn how to work around bureaucratic red tape so they can deliver critical internet access to their communities, says Christy Baker-Smith, a director of research and data at the National League of Cities (NLC). State-level legislative restrictions can exacerbate local digital divides and resident burdens, said Baker-Smith.

President Biden's Municipal Broadband Push Clashes With State Restrictions

President Biden's transformative push to expand internet service by treating broadband more like a public utility is on a collision course with laws in 17 states. And, the potential conflict is raising questions about whether his administration is willing to use federal infrastructure dollars to twist the arms of mostly Republican-run states to change laws they have on the books restricting municipal broadband projects.

Federal Infrastructure Funding Creates Huge Broadband Responsibilities for States

States will receive billions to improve broadband access from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), but have limited experience administering broadband grant programs. Here are important priorities to consider to effectively use the money:

How Localities and States Can Prepare for Broadband Expansion

Governments can use American Rescue Plan Act funding to pay for broadband infrastructure. Experts say local governments are in the best position to know what initiatives will work to connect residents. Because barriers to broadband access vary widely from neighborhood to neighborhood and household to household, local governments are best positioned to figure out what assistance residents need in order to log on. A number of initiatives can help cities interested in using the federal dollars on broadband, including: