Vol. 18, No. 15
April 11, 2022
Sen. Fischer Pushes for State Broadband Offices
Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) is pushing states to establish broadband offices to avoid wasting new grant funds. The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration is preparing to disburse $42.5 billion in state grants for broadband deployment, mapping, and adoption projects. The money was appropriated in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed in November.

Fischer, speaking Monday on a webinar hosted by the American Enterprise Institute think tank, stressed the money must be disbursed wisely. “States need to be very organized,” Fisher said. That means having a robust awareness of what the local broadband buildout needs are by establishing a broadband office or designating one state agency to conduct oversight, she added. As of November 1, 20 states lacked a centralized office for broadband projects, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts.

Close interagency coordination at the federal level also will be crucial, Fischer said. The infrastructure law requires the FCC to track where the money is going by consulting with all relevant federal agencies, including NTIA and the Agriculture Department, which has its own broadband program. The FCC also must complete maps detailing broadband availability in the country to avoid duplication. Unserved areas—versus underserved areas—are “the number one priority,” Fischer said. FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel last week told lawmakers the maps would be ready by the fall.
Senators Introduce Legislation for Government
Sharing of Cyber Security Information
Last week, Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee; Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Chairwoman of the Senate Rules Committee; Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee; and Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced the bipartisan Intragovernmental Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act to ensure sharing of cybersecurity information between operational cybersecurity staff in the Executive Branch and the Senate and House of Representatives.

This legislation will ensure that cybersecurity defenders in Congress are able to work collaboratively and directly with cybersecurity defenders in the Executive Branch and will require regular reporting to Congress on the status of implementation. The legislation would ensure the Sergeant at Arms and Doorkeeper of the Senate and the Chief Administrative Officer of the House of Representatives receive direct, timely, and actionable cybersecurity information from the Executive Branch.
NTIA to Host Pre-NOFO Technical Assistance Webinars
NTIA will host a pre-Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) technical assistance webinar series through May in connection with the five new broadband grant programs authorized and funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA): The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program; the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program; and the Digital Equity Act Programs, which include the State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program, State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program, and Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program.

These pre-NOFO technical assistance webinars are designed to help prospective applicants understand NTIA’s IIJA broadband grant programs and to assist applicants to prepare high quality grant applications.

NTIA Webinar Schedule
  • Webinar #4: Wednesday, April 27, 2022, from 2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET
  • Webinar #5: Wednesday, May 11, 2022, from 2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET

These webinars will be hosted via NTIA’s virtual platform and conducted as live webinars. NTIA will post the registration information on its BroadbandUSA website as soon as the virtual platform is finalized.