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Working with States to Solve the Broadband Challenge

Wed, February 12, 2020

By Doug Kinkoph, performing the delegated duties of the Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information

Cross-posted with the NTIA website

NTIA’s State Broadband Leaders Network is a powerful forum for connecting local government, industry and stakeholders across the country that are focused on broadband activities. NTIA has spent many years building up these relationships, and recently updated our website with detailed information on state broadband offices and funding opportunities. The SBLN also holds regular meetings for states to improve funding coordination, align policies, and address barriers to collaboration across states and agencies.

Meetings with state broadband leaders helps us gather valuable, on-the-ground data about specific broadband challenges. This work is playing an important role as NTIA continues to build out the National Broadband Availability Map.

We’re pleased to report that five new states have joined the initial eight states participating in our mapping program. The new participating states are Nebraska, New Mexico, Michigan, Missouri and Virginia. The eight initial states are California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia.

Our platform allows for the visualization of federal, state, and commercially available data sets. This includes Form 477 fixed broadband data from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and we’ll soon add Form 477 mobile broadband data. We’ve also utilized data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Department of Interior as well as state governments; and met with local and tribal governments, owners and operators of broadband networks, educational institutions, nonprofits and cooperatives.

The map is intended for state and federal policymakers, who are critical to the success of the project that Congress asked NTIA to do. We have also acquired data from third parties where available. As we continue to improve the data sets that we are collecting, we’re looking to bring more states into the fold.

Our BroadbandUSA website also functions as a one-stop shop for information on federal broadband permitting. We are encouraging greater collaboration among the agencies that have funding to disperse, and we’re looking for ways to promote more consistency in programs’ performance metrics and definitions.

Given the critical importance of expanding broadband access throughout America, we are eager to keep these conversations going to encourage investment and close the broadband gap. Please send your ideas and questions to broadbandusa@ntia.gov.