Leaders in Agriculture, Business, Education, Housing, Health Care, Technology and Veterans Issues Urge NTIA to Capitalize on Historic Opportunity to Expand Broadband Connectivity and Digital Equity
February 2, 2022
Contact: Jon Conradi
Washington, D.C. — Connect Americans Now (CAN) filed public comments Wednesday, co-signed by 36 organizations, in response to a notice from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) seeking input on the implementation of broadband programs authorized by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
The letter encourages NTIA to maximize the positive impact of the historic resources made available for broadband deployments by ensuring a technology neutral approach that allows providers flexibility to connect as many unserved people as possible in the most cost-effective and rapid manner. Co-signers of the letter include ACT | The App Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Seed Trade Association, ArcherDanielsMidland (ADM), BroadbandNow, College Possible, Corteva, Council for Affordable and Rural Housing, Digital Wish, Gigabit Libraries Network, Midwest Food Products Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Veteran Small Business Coalition, OCHIN, Student Veterans of America, USA Rice and Voices for Innovation.
“The urgency for action to permanently eliminate the digital divide in every American community, regardless of zip code, is greater than ever before,” the comment letter states. “Federal agencies like the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) have a historic opportunity to make substantial progress toward that national mission through the implementation of programs recently authorized by Congress in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to expand access to an affordable, reliable broadband connection and digital skills.”
“When distributing broadband deployment funding, Connect Americans Now (CAN) encourages NTIA to distribute broadband deployment funding consistent with the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which targets funding in a technology neutral manner at unserved and underserved areas as well as anchor institutions without limiting which broadband technologies are eligible for funding,” the letter continues. “As NTIA prepares to administer the $42 billion broadband deployment program, CAN and the co-signed organizations below urge NTIA to allocate these resources consistent with the legislation. This carefully crafted technology neutral approach allows broadband providers the flexibility they need to connect the greatest number of people as quickly as possible by leveraging the technology that is best suited for a given area. It allows for rapid deployment of broadband network solutions and maximizes the reach of government dollars in building networks and connecting consumers.
“… [A] technology neutral approach provides multiple benefits. By allowing broadband providers to determine what technologies best serve a given community, it allows them to determine how best to deploy networks cost effectively,” the letter states. “Given the size of the fund, this will maximize the impact of each dollar by allowing cost effective technologies to serve the hardest to serve, unserved areas — helping ensure more resources are available to also reach underserved areas. A technology neutral approach will also allow for rapid deployment of networks and reduce the likelihood of over-building — thereby maximizing the impact of the funding and the number of Americans with access to broadband. Ultimately, with limited resources, it’s critical to put a plan in place that reaches as many people as possible with broadband and reduces the likelihood that another generation may grow up without broadband in American communities.”
“We have seen various types of broadband deployments from wired and wireless technologies to now even satellites used to deliver broadband service to people living in regions with differing levels of infrastructure as well as differing topographies and population densities,” the letter adds. “In order to connect as many communities as quickly as possible, an all of the above approach, that does not favor one type of technology over another, is essential.”
“We also commend NTIA’s commitment to solutions that can more effectively help to close the broadband gap, particularly NTIA’s recent establishment of a broadband map that allows the public to better understand the state of broadband in American communities by comparing data from a variety of sources,” the letter reads. “NTIA should continue to make its maps available using third-party data which in the near term can help to inform potential applicants as they prepare to pursue funding and assist the FCC in the development of accurate broadband maps.”
“CAN and the co-signed organizations below encourage NTIA to capitalize on this historic opportunity and stay true to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by advancing guidance that will maximize the reach and effectiveness of broadband deployments and eliminate the digital divide for as many people as possible as rapidly as possible,” the letter concludes.
Read the full letter HERE.
full list of co-signers on the CAN letter includes:
National and Regional Organizations
ACT | The App Association
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Seed Trade Association
Connect Americans Now
Council for Affordable and Rural Housing
Gigabit Libraries Network
Midwest Food Products Association
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
National Veteran Small Business Coalition
Student Veterans of America
Voices for Innovation
California Farm Bureau Federation
California Telehealth Network
Chehalem Valley Innovation Accelerator
Greater Grenada Partnership
Mississippi Hospitality & Restaurant Association
Montana Rural Education Association
Northwoods Association of REALTORS
Oregon Association of Nurseries
Oregon Cattlemen’s Association
Oregon Dairy Farmers Association
Oregon Hop Growers Association
Oregon State Chamber of Commerce
Oregon Water Resources Congress
Telehealth Alliance of Oregon
Thomas County Economic Development Alliance
Wisconsin Corn Growers Association
Wisconsin Independent Businesses
Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association
Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance
Founded in 2017, Connect Americans Now (CAN) is a broad-based coalition representing leading voices in agriculture, education, health care, veterans’ issues, technology, small business and more — committed to urgent action to completely eliminate the digital divide in every American community.
Read about how the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will improve broadband connectivity and digital equity HERE.
Learn more about solutions to permanently close the broadband gap HERE.
Read more on CAN and our mission HERE.