Sounds like federal legislation is going to be a hot topic for federal legislators over the weekend. I wanted to share NDIA’s thoughts and hopes for the Act…
As the bi-partisan infrastructure bill continues to take shape, NDIA recommends the Senate include the following items in the broadband section of the Infrastructure bill:
$4 billion for the Digital Equity Act
- Over five years:
- $400 million for the ‘State digital equity capacity grant program’ and,
- $400 million for the ‘National digital equity competitive grant program.’
- The original bill totaled $1.25 billion for implementing the Digital Equity Act but should be increased to $4 billion to support local and state planning and programs. Without trusted local and state intervention, broadband adoption rates will remain low.
At a minimum $6 billion to continue the Emergency Broadband Benefit
- As outlined in both the LIFT America Act and the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act, at a minimum, $6 billion should be dedicated to continuing the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.
- For us to fully understand what works and what does not, this program must be extended. The data can then be used to develop a permanent broadband benefit.
$40 billion for broadband deployment funds, utilizing the BRIDGE Act or the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act
- To adequately address broadband availability gaps in rural and urban communities, the funds allocated to increase broadband deployment should be structured like those in the BRIDGE Act or the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Acts which are based on evidence-based best practices.
- The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) should house and manage the deployment fund given its experience and expertise.
Create a device voucher program for low-income individuals
- To fully address the digital divide, the Senate should create a voucher program to support low-income families in purchasing a device equipped with video conferencing capabilities.
- Vouchers should be a minimum of $500 per qualified individual every three years.