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Shaheen, Hassan Urge Administration to Implement Broadband Expansion Funding in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined a group of Senators to encourage the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Assistant Secretary Alan Davidson to follow Congressional intent in implementing the $65 billion included in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) for broadband expansion efforts across the United States. The effort was led by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME) and Rob Portman (R-OH).

 

The Senators said in part, “As Senators representing small rural towns, large cities, and everything in between, we know that local input will be key to effective implementation. The IIJA provides unprecedented levels of funding for broadband directly to states. We knew in crafting these programs that this level of grant management would require additional capacity across the board—from NTIA to city halls. That’s why the law provides for a minimum allocation of $100 million to every state, a portion of which can be used to kickstart a robust planning process and technical assistance, allowing these funds to be used to stand up and build out state broadband offices, promote state-local coordination, increase mapping efforts, and improve the expertise and capacity at a local level.”

 

Over $48 billion of the $65 billion included for broadband in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) will be implemented by NTIA. The NTIA will coordinate with the FCC, which is responsible for updating the broadband coverage maps, to implement this funding and close the digital divide.

 

The Senators continued, “The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has consistently overstated broadband coverage around the United States. We represent states with significant areas that lack even the barest level of service. That’s why, for the first time, we made clear that funding for deploying broadband infrastructure must be contingent on updated maps by the FCC. We know the Administration is eager to implement the IIJA, and so are we. That’s why we seek to impress upon NTIA the need to continue working with the FCC to move quickly on updating the maps, as the impact of this investment is reliant on their timely and accurate completion. In order to make sure the data we are utilizing for these broadband projects is as accurate as possible, we also included a robust challenge process to give states and localities, as well as providers, a voice in this process.”

 

The full letter can be read here.

 

As a lead negotiator of the historic bipartisan infrastructure deal, Shaheen led bipartisan broadband negotiations with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and successfully secured $65 billion to support broadband affordability and deployment across the nation. The package also builds on the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program by investing $14.2 billion to help working and low-income families access affordable high-speed internet. Earlier this month, as chair of the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations subcommittee, Shaheen welcomed Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to testify on the broadband provisions included in the bipartisan infrastructure law, and to address other priorities related to the Department of Commerce’s jurisdiction. During the hearing, Shaheen questioned Secretary Raimondo about anticipated timing for the rollout of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) maps that will determine how much funding states are allocated for broadband investments.

 

Senator Hassan also helped to negotiate the bipartisan infrastructure package, including key provisions on high-speed internet, passenger rail, coastal resiliency, and cybersecurity. The bill also incorporates elements of bipartisan legislation Senator Hassan authored to support rural broadband using private activity bonds to help pay for high-speed internet infrastructure in unserved locations, an approach that allows state and local governments to access and leverage new sources of capital and attract investment for broadband.

 

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