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How Public Input Helped Shape NTIA’s High-Speed Internet Grant Programs Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

May 12, 2022 by NTIA

On November 15, 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which included a historic $65 billion investment to ensure that everyone in America has access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) was allocated more than $48 billion of this funding to work with states and other stakeholders to lay the critical groundwork to connect every American. 

NTIA developed a whole-of-government, whole-of-nation strategy to meet President Biden’s goal to connect everyone in America to reliable, affordable, high-speed internet service. On January 7, 2022, NTIA requested public comment on a wide range of policy and program considerations associated with the new high-speed internet grant programs authorized and funded by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The request for comment was a vital part of NTIA’s strategy, allowing a broad and diverse set of stakeholders to inform program development and help close the digital divide and meet the ambitious goal of connecting every American. This process bolstered NTIA’s work and improved the number and quality of ideas under consideration as the agency developed the Notices of Funding Opportunity for the new grant programs.

New NTIA Data Show Enduring Barriers to Closing the Digital Divide, Achieving Digital Equity

May 11, 2022 by Rafi Goldberg, Senior Policy Advisor, Digital Equity, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted what many already knew: high-speed internet access is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. As workplaces and schools shifted to online environments, families that lacked access to affordable, reliable, high-speed connections, appropriate devices, and digital skills fell further behind.

Newly released data from the 2021 NTIA Internet Use Survey show that historically less-connected communities used the Internet and connected devices in greater numbers than they did two years ago. Despite that progress, the substantial disparities that NTIA has tracked for decades continued to be evident, highlighting the urgent need to work toward digital equity in the United States.

The 2021 NTIA Internet Use Survey represents the first comprehensive federal data on how Internet use in America has evolved since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results make clear that our nation faces substantial challenges to achieving full digital equity. Over the coming months, NTIA will continue to analyze the data to help inform the important policy choices that will be made as part of the new high-speed internet programs in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The Digital Equity Act, in particular, references the Internet Use Survey as a key data point to help determine award amounts for the $1.5 billion State Digital Equity Planning and Capacity Grant Programs.

Introducing the Tribal Broadband Planning Toolkit

May 10, 2022 by NTIA

A successful broadband project begins with a broadband plan, one that lays out the goals and path forward to enhance internet access and meaningful use within a target area or community. But there are many moving pieces involved in creating a broadband plan. BroadbandUSA’s Tribal Broadband Planning Toolkit aims to simplify the process for tribes. It provides the guidance, knowledge, and resources to design, implement, and then execute a broadband plan in tribal communities.

While this toolkit can be used at any time and for any broadband planning purpose – for NTIA or other programs – it comes at an especially opportune time: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) allocated an additional $2 billion and relaxed some of the program requirements to the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program.

The toolkit outlines seven, common elements that serve as the building blocks of a tribal broadband plan. Designed for interactive use, each element has a dedicated worksheet and a tab in an accompanying, downloadable Excel-based template. The elements are:

NTIA Seeks Input on Competition in the Mobile App Ecosystem

April 25, 2022 by Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information

Apps on mobile devices are a part of daily life for many Americans. They allow us to talk with our friends, find a ride home, play games, or monitor our health. These applications on our mobile phones and tablets can help small business owners reach new customers, and thousands of American entrepreneurs and innovators are working on apps that increase productivity, improve health care and make learning more fun.

That’s why mobile apps have become a significant part of our economy -- by one industry account, the app economy was valued at $1.7 trillion in 2020, employing more than 5.9 million Americans.

In his Executive Order on promoting competition, President Biden recognized America’s tech sector as an engine of innovation and growth, but he warned that dominant Internet platforms can “use their power to exclude market entrants, to extract monopoly profits, and to gather intimate personal information that they can exploit for their own advantage.”  

With the goal of promoting a fair, open, and competitive marketplace, the Executive Order directed the Department of Commerce to conduct a study of the mobile app ecosystem, and to use an open and transparent process to hear from the many stakeholders in the app economy, including consumers, app developers, businesses, and nonprofits.

NTIA Celebrates National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week!

April 13, 2022 by April McClain-Delaney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information

This week marks National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, and NTIA is joining the entire nation in saluting our dedicated 911 telecommunicators. The dedicated professionals who answer our country’s 911 calls are a crucial first touch point to communities and individuals experiencing emergency situations. Whether taking and triaging initial calls for assistance, routing life-saving emergency medical services, or dispatching and coordinating field responders, America’s 911 professionals save lives each and every day.

Americans each year make more than 240 million calls to 911. Each of those calls represents a person in need of help, and they’re often the most tense, personal calls one can make. No matter where you live, that call is handled by dedicated professionals who staff, maintain, and manage our nation’s 911 centers and systems.

In 2019, NTIA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded over $109 million to 33 states, the District of Columbia and two tribal nations for projects designed to modernize the current systems and move our nation closer to Next Generation 911 (NG911). When fully implemented, NG911 will allow telecommunicators to keep pace with the advanced technology that is already used by the public they serve.

NTIA applauds all those public safety telecommunicators who dedicate themselves to helping others. NTIA is a champion of the public safety community and applauds all of the public safety telecommunicators who dedicate themselves to saving lives each day.

NTIA Adds Key Broadband Leaders to its Growing Team

April 01, 2022 by NTIA

NTIA is continuing to build out its senior leadership team as we prepare to launch the grant programs in the Broadband Infrastructure Law. The law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, includes a significant investment of $65 billion to help close the digital divide and ensure that all Americans have access to reliable, high speed, and affordable broadband.

Herb Tyson is joining NTIA as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Herb will build a team to support NTIA’s extensive engagement with state and local governments around our broadband programs. Tyson has had a lengthy, respected career engaged in federal, state, local and international public policy, including previous service as a Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the State Department.

Evan Feinman has been named Deputy Associate Administrator for Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD). Feinman will lead the $42.45 billion BEAD Program. Previously, Feinman was Chief Broadband Advisor to Governor Northam, and in that role, developed and funded projects that put the state on track to be the first large state with universal broadband infrastructure. He also served as Executive Director of the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission and as Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources for the Commonwealth.

NTIA’s Engineering Lab Seeks Input for ISART 2022

February 14, 2022 by NTIA

NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) is seeking input for the 2022 International Symposium on Advanced Radio Technologies (ISART) tentatively planned for the week of June 13, 2022.  ISART is a science and engineering discussion-based conference that brings together government, industry, and academic leaders (both domestic and international). Its purpose is to forecast the development and application of advanced radio technologies and the application of careful engineering and research on radio technologies within the context of spectrum management, policy, and regulation. Our goal for ISART 2022 is to chart a roadmap and gain consensus for data-, science-, and technology-driven means to evolve and expedite spectrum sharing analyses and decision-making.

NTIA Receives More than 550 Comments on Broadband Programs in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

February 14, 2022 by NTIA

Earlier this year, NTIA issued a Request for Comment (RFC) on a wide range of policy and program considerations associated with new broadband grant programs authorized and funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The RFC period was open from January 10, 2022, to February 4, 2022. NTIA welcomed input from all interested parties, conducted extensive stakeholder outreach, and received comments reflecting a diverse range of backgrounds and stakeholder groups.  

NTIA received 557 written comments, which are available for public view at Regulations.gov.

The written comments collected by NTIA will serve an important role in the development and implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law broadband programs. The written comments will inform the drafting of the Notice of Funding Opportunity for each program, shaping the parameters of program success, guiding program execution, and promoting digital equity and access for all communities.

NTIA thanks all individuals and organizations who submitted written comments through this process. Your constructive feedback is critical to NTIA’s next steps of designing and implementing these programs and meeting the goal to ensure all Americans have access to affordable high-speed internet.

Marking the Conclusion of NTIA’s SBOM Process

February 09, 2022 by NTIA

In 2018, NTIA launched its Multistakeholder Process on Software Component Transparency, bringing together an active, engaged community to formulate and establish a software bill of materials (SBOM) – a nested inventory that makes up the “ingredients list” for software.

The stakeholders in our process initially focused on defining the problem: the what, the why, and the how of software component transparency. They established common, consensus definitions, and emphasized the importance of a "baseline" SBOM.

Experts from the healthcare and medical device community stepped up early in the process to demonstrate that this idea was both feasible and useful for their industry.  They launched the first SBOM "proof of concept," sharing their experiences, successes, and challenges in public documentation from which the broader community could learn.

Next, the community shifted its efforts to jumping technical hurdles, as well as identifying existing tools and gaps in the ecosystem.

They emphasized a mantra of "crawl, then walk, then run" to promote adoption across the ecosystem. They developed videos to help educate the public.

Along the way, what was an obscure idea became a key part of the global agenda around securing software supply chains.

National Broadband Availability Map Reaches 40 State, U.S. Territory Participants

December 27, 2021 by NTIA

Over the last few months, NTIA’s National Broadband Availability Map (NBAM) has added Nevada, Louisiana, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico to its growing roster of participants. To date, the NBAM includes 38 states, two U.S. territories, and five federal agencies: US Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

The NBAM is a geographic information system platform which allows for the visualization and analysis of federal, state, and commercially available data sets. This includes data from the Federal Communications Commission, U.S. Census Bureau, Universal Service Administrative Company, USDA, Ookla, Measurement Lab, BroadbandNow, White Star, and the state governments. The mapping platform provides users, including administrators from the 40 participating states and territories, with access to the NBAM and its data to better inform broadband projects and funding decisions in their states.

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