NATOA Files Comments on NTIA Implementation of Infrastructure Act Grants
NATOA filed comments providing significant feedback to NTIA on its implementation of several grant programs established in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Recognizing the disproportionate impacts of the digital divide and that there is no one-size-fits-all model NTIA can use ensure everyone, everywhere has access to affordable, high-quality broadband, NATOA stressed four key points:
- Congress established a range of uses for BEAD program funds and NTIA should stress that funding is and should be made available to address broadband needs in rural and non-rural areas and for network deployment and non-deployment uses.
- Affordability is a significant factor in the digital divide and must be a component of determining where grant funds are best allocated.
- Congressionally mandated coordination between eligible entities and local governments is essential to ensuring funding is directed to those Congress recognized as disproportionately affected by the digital divide: communities of color, lower-income areas and rural areas.
- The grant programs do not implicate, and NTIA should ensure compliance with, local authority to manage use of public rights of way, which authority is essential to ensuring network deployments protect public and worker safety and safeguard public property.
In addition to public comments, which are due by February 4, 2022, NTIA will continue to accept feedback on the grant programs in its public listening sessions.