CTF Highlights from the Field: April & May 2023
From updated broadband maps and new Federal Communications Commission (FCC) nominations to congressional hearings and Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) allocation preparation – it’s been an action-packed spring in Washington. As we head into summer, Connect the Future and our supporters remain focused on removing the barriers that can delay or altogether halt broadband deployment, such as access to utility poles. Only when these barriers are removed will we finally be able to achieve full connectivity across America.
- CTF applauded the White House’s nomination of Anna Gomez to serve on the FCC, and Commissioners Brendan Carr and Geoffrey Starks on their renominations. Read the full statement from CTF here.
- Leading up to the April 19th House Communications & Technology Subcommittee hearing on expediting broadband deployment, CTF executive director Zach Cikanek penned a letter to Chairman Rodgers, Ranking Member Pallone, Chairman Latta, and Ranking Member Matsui that outlined limitations on access to utility poles. As CTF explained, “the outdated process of adding new broadband infrastructure to existing poles is creating needless hurdles that drive up costs and impede broadband deployment to the communities that need it most.” Read the full letter here.
- Following the April 19th hearing, CTF addressed several misleading arguments advanced by those opposed to common-sense rules. As CTF wrote, “some pole owners have sought to defend the status quo by mischaracterizing efforts to address pole-related barriers as an unfair subsidy for rural broadband projects. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, the abuse of an outdated process for adding new broadband infrastructure to existing poles continues to impede broadband deployment to the citizens and communities that need it most.” Get the full download here.
- Kristian Stout, Director of Innovation Policy at the International Center for Law and Economics (ICLE), published an op-ed in The Center Square outlining strategies for states looking to wisely spent forthcoming funds from the BEAD program. He also urged lawmakers to embrace reforms such as the FAIR Poles Act, which “aims to prevent time-consuming delays in the attachment process. It would ensure that costs are allocated appropriately between pole owners and attachers by applying the same comprehensive regulations to all entities that receive federal broadband assistance.” Read the full piece here.
- At the end of May, Florida awarded $60 million in grants through the state’s Broadband Opportunity Program, covering 22 different broadband expansion projects in 19 counties. These funds build on the $166 million already awarded through the program earlier this year. On May 10th, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity also announced that an additional $133 million will be available during the next application cycle, which closes on July 14th, 2023.
- The Texas Legislature recently approved $1.27 billion for broadband expansion across the state through the Broadband Infrastructure Fund. The legislation also proposes a constitutional amendment to approve funding of the program, which Texas citizens will vote on in November of this year. Governor Gregg Abbott signed the enabling legislation on June 9.