Federal Funding Officials Say Talk to Your State Broadband Offices Now
Billions of dollars in broadband deployment funding, most which will be administered by states, were the major topic this week as NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association held its Legislative and Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. U.S. Treasury, and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) spokespeople advised rural telcos attending to get in touch with state broadband funding officials. Let them know where broadband is needed in the community – and what levels of funding could be part of the solution. It was the amplification of a message funding advocates have emphasized for the past year.
Joseph Wender, director of the $10 billion Capital Projects Fund (CPF) at the U.S. Treasury, pointed out that while the CPF is smaller than NTIA’s $42 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, CPF will release money first. The BEAD process still has many steps until funds can reach states, perhaps not until next year. In contrast, states should start seeing their CPF applications approved in “weeks, not months,” so states will have that money in hand much faster, said Wender, picrured left with NTCA’s VP of Government Affairs Leif Oveson. The Treasury will approve, or work with states to adjust, state applications on a rolling basis. States, in turn, will determine how to spend the funding. NRTC’s summary of the CPF is available here.
NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, appeared at the conference to discuss BEAD. He said that NTIA would release the BEAD Notice of Funding Opportunity in mid-May. The agency also is preparing to provide states with technical and procedural assistance. It is important for broadband providers to meet with state officials to help them understand community needs while the funding procedures unfold, Davidson said.
NRTC’s Funding Services will continue to monitor these and other funding programs and provide updates as they develop.