While lawmakers continue to negotiate on an infrastructure funding package, NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association, wrote to the Senate and to the White House. NATE is pressing policy makers to ensure that the broadband and communications infrastructure package is open to wireless providers who are essential to closing the digital divide in rural, unserved and underserved communities.
NATE is concerned that there has been a push in favor of wireline (fiber only) connectivity instead of ensuring a variety of technologies are included in a federal infrastructure package.
“NATE is taking action on behalf of our members to ensure that wireless technologies are part of the equation as Congress and President Biden work to close the digital divide in rural and underserved communities,” Todd Washam, NATE Director of Government Relations and the Wireless Industry Network told Inside Towers. “NATE supports robust funding for broadband infrastructure programs, but if we don’t have the right mix of technologies then any funding that Congress appropriates will not be fully utilized. NATE will continue to advocate for our contractor members and protect their interests.”
In a letter, NATE said the association supports “substantial” funding amounts being discussed in congressional infrastructure legislation. “This is a stance NATE has championed for almost two decades,” wrote executives.
“With over 1,060 member companies that construct and maintain communications facilities throughout the United States, NATE is playing a significant role in ongoing efforts to close the digital divide,” wrote Todd Schlekeway, NATE President and chief executive officer; Jim Goldwater, NATE Legislative Affairs and Todd Washam, NATE Government Relations. “The pending infrastructure legislation can greatly accelerate the deployment of broadband to rural, unserved and underserved communities while enhancing this country’s economic competitiveness, homeland security, and vital communications capabilities. To do so, it is essential that the legislation emphasizes the goal of effective, efficient deployment without favoring one technology over another,” they wrote.
Voicing their concern that the package pushes wireline connectivity rather than wireless, they say the association prefers “support for a variety of technologies (i.e., wireless) that we are confident will be critical to closing the digital divide. It would be unfortunate and short-sighted to not embrace wireless as part of the solution to bringing connectivity to all areas of the country. Simply put, NATE and other industry associations want to ensure that wireless deployments get a portion of this once in a generation funding to connect America.”