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Federal Agencies To Share, Standardize, Broadband Data

Capitol Building

The FCC, Department of Agriculture, National Telecommunications & Information Administration (all of which oversee broadband subsidy programs) and the Treasure Department have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreeing to share "information about and collaborate regarding the collection and reporting of certain data and metrics relating to broadband deployment."

They have also agreed to, to the degree possible, develop "consistent, complementary, uniform formats, standard, protocols and reporting processes for that data.

For its part, the FCC has been working on collecting better data's on where high-speed broadband is or isn't given the tens of billions of dollars being spent on subsidies.

That MOU, which extends out two years but will almost certainly be renewed, comes as the Biden Administration Friday announced notices of funding opportunity for $45 billion worth of subsidies being handed out by NTIA, mostly to the states for their own broadband deployment and adoption programs.

As part of the agreement, the agencies will share information about projects that have gotten funding--or will be getting funding--under their respective broadband subsidy programs. They will also make that data available for public perusal  The MOU complements, rather than supersedes, a June 2021 MOU among the agencies "to coordinate the distribution of federal high-speed internet funds."

The FCC oversees billions in Universal Service Fund broadband subsidies as well as COVID-19 related emergency programs including for telehealth, remote learning. NTIA has about $45 billion in subsidies, mostly going to the states, and USDA has ongoing broadband subsidy programs for connected agriculture. ■

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.