Broadband is an essential component of modern life and a requirement for economic growth, education, health care, and public safety. Maximizing broadband coverage and meaningful use is an imperative for national and individual success. The BroadbandUSA program, housed within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), serves state, local, and tribal governments, industry, and nonprofits that seek to expand broadband connectivity and promote digital inclusion. BroadbandUSA promotes planning and funding efforts through solution-neutral guides and resources, hosting local and regional planning workshops that offer opportunities to convene with broadband stakeholders across the country, the National Broadband Availability Map (NBAM), and promoting interagency coordination.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), located within the Department of Commerce, is the Executive Branch agency principally responsible by law for advising the President on telecommunications and information policy issues. NTIA’s programs and policymaking focus largely on expanding broadband Internet access and adoption in America, expanding the use of spectrum by all users, and ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for continued innovation and economic growth. These goals are critical to America’s competitiveness in the modern global economy and to addressing many of the nation’s most pressing needs, such as improving education, health care, and public safety. In addition to working with other Executive Branch agencies to develop Administration positions, NTIA represents the Executive Branch in both domestic and international telecommunications and information policy activities. NTIA is also a leading source of research and data on the status of broadband availability and adoption in America.
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 Overview
2020 year-end omnibus legislation included several broadband and connectivity expansion bills. The following will be implemented by NTIA:
Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives: An office established to focus on collaboration for internet access and promotion of digital skills and digital inclusion at HBCUs, TCUs, MSIs, and their surrounding communities, as well as on investment in infrastructure to expand connectivity and encourage further investment.
Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth, through the ACCESS BROADBAND Act: An office tasked with performing certain responsibilities related to broadband access, adoption, and deployment, such as performing public outreach to promote access and adoption of high-speed broadband service and standardizing the process for applying for Federal broadband support. ACCESS BROADBAND also establishes coordination requirements among agencies that offer broadband deployment funding programs, to ensure Federal funds are spent efficiently and effectively.
Broadband Interagency Coordination Act of 2020: Requires the NTIA, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Department of Agriculture to enter into an interagency agreement to coordinate the distribution of Federal funds for broadband programs, to prevent duplication of support and ensure stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 legislation also directed NTIA to implement three new grant programs: the Broadband Infrastructure Program, Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, and Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program.