WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Chamber applauds today’s launch of the “Internet for All” initiative and the release of the three notice of funding opportunities for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s (IIJA) broadband deployment and digital skills programs.
“Affordable, reliable, high-speed internet powers our economy, improves education, and fosters better health outcomes. However, not all Americans are connected,” said Jordan Crenshaw, Vice President, U.S. Chamber’s Technology Engagement Center. “That’s one reason why the Chamber was proud to support the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides new funding to connect all Americans. These programs will help close the digital divide and ensure all individuals can participate in the 21st century economy.”
“Continued partnership with the private sector is crucial to successfully implementing these programs and addressing other barriers to closing the digital divide,” Crenshaw added. “The business community stands ready to collaborate with the Department of Commerce and other stakeholders on connecting all Americans.”
The U.S. Chamber recently filed comments to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) outlining how the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, the largest broadband funding opportunity under IIJA, should be crafted to ensure its success.
The Chamber recommends the following top principles and priorities for implementing the BEAD Program:
- Use federal funds efficiently: The Program should prioritize unserved areas first so that all Americans can benefit from an internet connection. This means that NTIA should coordinate with other federal agencies like the FCC and the Departments of Agriculture and Treasury to prevent duplicative investments.
- Take a technology-neutral approach: There are many different types of technological solutions to provide an internet connection that fits the needs of different communities, including fiber, wireless, fixed wireless, and satellite. NTIA must maintain a technology-neutral approach and recognize the wide range of innovative solutions that the private sector offers.
- Ensure a uniform approach across all 50 states: States will take a leading role in broadband deployment under the infrastructure law. NTIA should work to prevent a confusing patchwork of rules across states, particularly for quality-of-service requirements. NTIA should also coordinate with the FCC to ensure quality of service requirements and the low-cost option align to limit confusion and contradictory requirements.
- Reduce other barriers to deployment: Outside of federal investments in broadband, NTIA and the administration should reduce other barriers to broadband deployment including onerous permitting requirements, supply chain challenges, and workforce shortages. Also, policymakers should avoid exacerbating these challenges through burdensome regulatory requirements and impractical domestic content restrictions requirements.