NTIA chief says states have ‘homework assignments’ on broadband permits

Internet service providers will need to secure multiple permits to build broadband infrastructure — a process that is currently so time-consuming it could significantly hinder efforts to close the digital divide, internet policy experts said. At the federal level, discussions about broadband permitting reform are underway, but state and local governments should also take this issue seriously to ensure federal broadband grants are spent effectively, said Alan Davidson, the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The NTIA is expected to announce in June

FCC’s spectrum-auction lapse stalls next-generation 911 funding

The Federal Communications Commission’s recent lapse in authority to auction off wireless spectrum has members of the House of Representatives concerned about the US's ability to stay competitive in a global wireless market. It has others concerned that the upgrade to next-generation 911 just lost its primary funding source. The Senate recently declined to vote on the House’s Spectrum Innovation Act, a bill that would have funneled spectrum fees into numerous initiatives, including $10 billion for upgrading aging 911 systems.

‘BEAD without equity is just BAD,’ NTIA official says

Broadband expansion is the goal of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) $42.5 billion Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) grant program, but the initiative won’t be successful without a sufficient focus on digital equity and community engagement, said NTIA officials.

NTIA working on guidance to address states' broadband grant questions

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration is developing guidance that will clarify how states should handle the process of distributing Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program funding. Addressing the US Conference of Mayors, NTIA Senior Adviser Sarah Morris said the agency is working to answer many state officials asking how they should manage the distribution of BEAD funding at the local level, including concerns over which projects are worth funding and how to find reliable data.

Alabama voters back local broadband spending amendment

Voters in Alabama approved a new state constitution as well as 10 amendments, one of which frees up the state and local governments to use stimulus funds from the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to attract internet service providers in hopes of expanding broadband service. Amendment Two was passed alongside several other amendments concerning election laws, criminal justice, and taxation. The measures were all attached to a new state constitution replacing a document written in 1901.

Nevada advances on broadband expansion, despite state law

Nevada is working to distribute its biggest-ever investment in broadband infrastructure in conjunction with local communities, despite state laws restricting municipalities and counties from providing telecommunications services. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is administering the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, wants municipal broadband providers to have access to these funds. But Nevada is one of 17 states with laws limiting the expansion of municipal broadband networks.

Maryland to buy laptops for 150,000 households

Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD) said the state’s Office of Statewide Broadband will spend up to $30 million on laptops for about 150,000 households. The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, which contains the broadband office, plans to partner with local governments and community groups to distribute the devices to “underserved” households, according to Gov. Hogan.

North Carolina broadband official expects new Federal Communication Commission data will provide a closer look

The Federal Communication Commission Chairwoman is aiming to publish a first-draft map of its nationwide broadband coverage map in November. First, though, comes a "challenge period," when state, local and tribal officials, as well as internet carriers, can examine and potentially correct the underlying data. For Nate Denny, Deputy Secretary of Broadband and Digital Equity at the North Carolina Department of Information Technology, this phase represents an opportunity to further hone the state's plan for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's Broadband Equity, Acce