Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program
Two years after President Joe Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and other agencies have distributed billions of dollars to communities to bridge the digital divide and make participation in the digital economy a reality for everyone. At NTIA, we completed funding rounds for multiple programs in the last year and are moving to the implementation phase, all the while preparing states and territories to administer their state grant programs.
Where are we in terms of closing the seven gaps that we think of, or should think of, as the elements of the digital divide? The seven gaps are the rural access gap, the affordability gap, the operating gap of very high-cost rural providers, the adoption gap, the institutional gap, the cable/copper gap, and the utilization gap. We could be using the network to improve outcomes in education, health care, government services, public safety, carbon reduction, civic engagement, and other public purposes. But to do achieve those goals, we need to close all seven broadband gaps.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 8.3 million households lack access to high-speed broadband. Providing universal access to communications service—initially voice service and now broadband—has always been a challenge in the United States. Although connecting urban, populated areas is relatively easy, serving sparsely populated rural areas is difficult due to differences in terrain and population density.
I am the Secretary of Commerce. And my job is to make sure that America can compete that our businesses and our companies can compete effectively in the world, including our small businesses, our family farms, and Americans, American workers. And I have to tell you, you cannot compete if you don't have the Internet. I just talked to a third-generation family farmer here in Wisconsin who struggles because the Internet is expensive and doesn't have high quality, and you all know it. You all have friends and family who don't have it.
The National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded Connecting Minority Communities (CMC) Pilot Program grants to Grambling State University, Southern University and A&M College, Southern University Law Center and Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO). The funding for this two-year program will provide a variety of broadband services for universities and their anchor communities.
Tucked inside Governor Jay Inslee’s proposed budget for the 2019-2021 fiscal cycle was a $1.2 million plan to create an office devoted to building out broadband internet access across the state. The idea was to create an entity with the authority to set statewide policy and promote private investment. “Broadband access is essential for full participation in society and the modern economy,” the proposal read.
On June 3, President Joe Biden signed the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, which suspends the debt ceiling through January 1, 2025—and increases the limit on January 2, 2025—while establishing new discretionary spending limits and rescinding certain unobligated funds.
Communications and Technology Subcommittee Hearing Examines the National Telecommunications and Information Administration
The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications and Technology convened to conduct oversight of the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The subcommittee is considering reauthorizing NTIA for the first time since 1993. Key questions leading into the hearing included:
The Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth (OICG) is housed within the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Congress created OICG in the ACCESS BROADBAND Act of 2021, part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, to oversee all broadband activity at NTIA and lead federal efforts to fund and expand broadband access across the country.