State Broadband Directors Have Lots to Offer, Broadband Communities Hear: Broadband Breakfast

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2022 — The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said Thursday that the enhanced broadband cards needed to adequately shell out billions of federal infrastructure dollars will arrive this fall.

During a House Energy and Commerce Committee oversight hearing on Thursday, the Speaker Jessica Rosenworcel said, “Absolutely, yes. We will have [complete] fall cards.

Earlier this year, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told the Senate Appropriations Committee that after speaking with the FCC, the best broadband cards should be expected this summer. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a commerce agency, will provide $42.5 billion of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act for broadband infrastructure, but maps precise are needed. It was a timeline that even the former FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly was skeptical.

Rosenworcel also shared the process, so far, of creating these maps, saying the agency has brought in broadband architects, new systems to manage data, tested those systems in beta, and has set up a contract for a broadband localization fabric. Earlier this month, a government watchdog refused to challenge an FCC choice to build the fabric, clearing the way for CostQuest to complete the work.

Rosenworcel also pointed to a late-June date set by the agency last month by which internet service providers can submit their data to help form the maps.

“Now all the systems are working,” she said.

Although the maps will be ready in the fall, they will still need to be released to states for their contribution to accuracy, and the FCC will then make any applicable revisions before they are finalized, Rosenworcel said.

Some states grew impatient with the FCC and started collecting their own data so they could generate their own maps. Without broadband cards, funding cannot be dispersed and states cannot begin to improve their infrastructure.

The committee also learned that the FCC will need the approval of its fifth commissioner, as Gigi SohnPresident Joe BidenThe party’s choice as the agency’s tiebreaker has yet to be approved by the Senate.

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