The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) plans to announce state Internet for All funding allocations by June 30, 2023, using the most up-to-date version of FCC’s national broadband maps. The news comes as the FCC said on Thursday it will release an initial version of its new broadband maps on November 18, and open a challenge process.
“The next eight weeks are critical for our federal efforts to connect the unconnected,” said NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson. “The FCC’s upcoming challenge process is one of the best chances to ensure that we have accurate maps guiding us as we allocate major Internet for All awards in 2023. I urge every state and community that believes it can offer improvements to be part of this process so that we can deliver on the promise of affordable, reliable high-speed internet service for everyone in America.”
NTIA says between November 18 of this year and January 13, 2023, is the best opportunity for eligible entities to submit challenges in time for the FCC to include corrections in the final version of the map that will be used to allocate Internet for All funding in the summer of 2023.
The bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a $65 billion investment to expand affordable and reliable high-speed internet access in communities across the U.S. NTIA recently launched a series of new high-speed internet grant programs funded by the law that will build high-speed internet infrastructure across the country, create more low-cost high-speed internet service options, and address the digital equity and inclusion needs in communities, Inside Towers reported. Click here for a list of all broadband deployment grant programs offered by NTIA, the FCC and USDA.
The Administration is required by law to allocate Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment funds according to a formula derived from the map data. NTIA coordinates closely with the FCC to ensure the data is accurate and reliable and will continue to do so. NTIA’s efforts to-date include:
- Calling every ISP in the United States to remind them of their obligations relating to the Broadband Data Collection process, register any concerns or technical assistance requests, and relay those to the FCC;
- Engaging in sustained outreach with Governors’ offices, state broadband offices, and stakeholder communities to share technical assistance resources, solicit feedback, and relay major areas of concern; and
- Producing and sharing materials to break down the process with key dates and deadlines for affected stakeholders.
NTIA will engage in outreach to support the FCC in its efforts to ensure that every state that wishes to file a challenge can do so. This effort will include:
- Technical assistance to state broadband officials and governors’ offices as they prepare challenges;
- Webinars for members of the public wishing to learn more about how to participate in the challenge process;
- Regular engagement with state officials to identify and resolve issues.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief