CTF HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE FIELD: MAY, JUNE & JULY 2022
Government officials in Washington and across the country have taken note of the barriers to broadband deployment, particularly in rural areas, and are beginning to take action:
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is seeking solutions to address the needless delays and costs associated with pole attachments, replacements, and disputes;
- The Commerce Department has asked states to include a plan to ensure timely access to poles as they distribute billions of federal infrastructure dollars to connecting unserved homes and small businesses.
All of this is in no small part thanks to the longstanding leadership of elected officials like Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Congressmen Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), who have remained committed to closing the rural broadband gap by working to break down the barriers – such as access to utility poles – that stand in the way of swift and efficient broadband buildout to the areas that need it most.
CTF executive director Zach Cikanek, National Grange’s Burton Eller, and Charter Communications’ Paul Cancienne and Ashley Hayes presented the three lawmakers earlier this month with our “2022 Rural Broadband Champions” award.
READ OUR FULL ANNOUNCEMENT HERE
- CTF filed official comments – signed by over 20 supporter organizations – in response to the FCC’s proposed rules to accelerate broadband deployment by streamlining access to utility poles.
- Read the official letter here.
- Download CTF’s summary on the comments submitted by other broadband advocates here.
- CTF was encouraged by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, which represented another significant step toward expanding broadband accessibility to every corner of the country. Read our full statement here.
- CTF recognized Alan Davidson, NTIA Administrator, for his remarks about pole attachments as critical barriers to swift, effective broadband buildout during a Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearing.
- In June, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) submitted its “Strategic Plan for Broadband” to Governor Ron DeSantis and leaders in the Florida Legislature. Once approved, the plan will be implemented by DEO’s Office of Broadband. CTF has advocated for addressing existing barriers to access by allocating resources to modernize Florida’s utility poles, which serve as the backbone of broadband infrastructure in unserved, rural communities.
- Kentucky recently began approving applications for its newly created broadband grant program, committing more than $203 million in investments. CTF is encouraged that network expansion projects supported by the grant program will be accelerated by $20 million in funding to replace utility poles in unserved areas.
- In May, the Missouri General Assembly took steps to address the barriers that aging utility pole infrastructure presents to broadband expansion in rural communities. HB 3020 utilizes federal American Rescue Plan Act funding to create a $15 million broadband pole replacement program. Rural broadband champions in the General Assembly, including Sen. Mike Cierpiot, Sen. Dan Hegeman, Rep. Cody Smith, and Rep. Louis Riggs worked hard to ensure this important provision was included among the bill’s provisions.
- In May, Governor Roy Cooper hosted U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to announce significant federal investment in broadband as part of a nationwide “Internet for All” initiative. North Carolina is expected to receive approximately $100 million from the program, which will bolster the state’s already substantial investment in broadband approved last year, including $100 million for a utility pole replacement fund.