Written by Benjamin Free
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced last Friday that it has now awarded preliminary grants from the $45 billion “Internet for All” program to all 50 states, following the delivery of $6 million to Massachusetts.
With the Massachusetts grant, the NTIA now has distributed more than $210 million to the states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to plan funds for next summer, when the agency expects to release full grants. Created as part of last year’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, the “Internet for All” agenda has two components: the $42 Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment, or BEAD, grant program .5 billion and a $2.5 billion fund aimed at advancing digital equality in communities.
Each state is guaranteed at least $100 million for broadband expansion once full awards are awarded, and many states are expected to receive several times that amount.
“Within months, we will begin to see plans from around the country detailing how each state will connect all of its residents with high-speed, affordable internet service,” said US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. said at a press conference last Friday with Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
However, those plans will largely be informed by the Federal Communications Commission recently revised map of nationwide broadband coverage. That map, which the FCC says is more accurate and detailed than previous versions, is currently undergoing a public review process in which states, localities, broadband industry organizations and individuals can challenge the accuracy of the underlying data. has been submitted by internet providers.
The challenges, arguing that specific addresses on the map do not have the described level of Internet service, quickly mounted. Only the state of New York 32,000 addresses submittedwhile Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va., said his agency has been collecting reports at 2,400 addresses in its state. A senior broadband official from Vermont told Route Fifty this month that 22% of addresses in that state were not on the FCC map at all.
These reports led a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators last week to send a letter to FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel expressing concern about the new card.
“Accountability and accuracy must be paramount to move forward”, reads the letter, which was directed by Sens. Shelly Moore Capito, RW.Va., and Jacky Rosen, D-Nev. “A more detailed map is of little use if there is little confidence in the results and if providers are not responsible for accurate reporting.”
The FCC’s challenge process closes on Jan. 13, a deadline set by NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson said Dec. 15 makes him “incredibly uncomfortable”.