Continuing the Broadband Dialogue with States: This week, broadband leaders from across the country convened at the Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition’s annual conference to discuss key broadband policy issues important to communities and community anchor institutions such as schools, hospitals and libraries. NTIA had the opportunity to participate in several sessions at the conference to discuss our continued efforts to implement Obama Administration initiatives aimed at promoting broadband access, adoption and digital inclusion. We also had the chance to meet with about two dozen officials from 15 states who work on broadband initiatives. The meeting was part of our efforts to keep an ongoing dialogue with state broadband leaders to sustain their peer network as a valuable vehicle for knowledge sharing. Many of these state officials helped run programs that received funding through NTIA’s State Broadband Initiative (SBI). The SBI grants provided funding to each state, territory and the District of Columbia to collect the broadband availability data that helped power the National Broadband Map. In addition, SBI grantees used some of the funding to identify and address obstacles to broadband deployment and adoption in their states or territories.
While the SBI grant program is finished, 41 of the 56 states and territories that received SBI funding are continuing their state broadband programs in some fashion using their own funds. Several states continue collecting data for their own broadband maps, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Virginia and Utah.
More meetings, more talk and more busy work on useless "broadband maps" that taken as a whole, are not meaningfully deploying fiber to modernize America's rapidly aging, obsolete and spotty telecommunications infrastructure. This is an urgent national problem that grows increasingly so by the month and year. It's one that can't be addressed by shifting it to the states. Strong federal leadership and support are needed.
This National Telecommunications and Information Administration update illustrates the bankruptcy of the Obama administration's telecom policy. It's unfortunate given nearly eight years ago, the Obama administration came into office with the promise of rapid, aggressive action to move the nation forward. Instead, it settled for half hearted efforts that left undisturbed a major obstacle to progress -- incumbent legacy telephone and cable companies.