House Republicans have unveiled their response to the Biden $100 billion broadband infrastructure plan, the American Broadband Act, which provides $23 billion in targeted infrastructure deployment funds, to be overseen by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, rather than the FCC.
According to House Energy & Commerce Committee Republicans, $20 billion over five years would go to broadband buildouts, plus another $3 billion for rural wireless infrastructure.
The money would be handed out by NTIA in the form of grants using the better broadband availability maps Congress, in the Broadband Data Act, mandated that the FCC come up with. The money would go to partnerships between industry and government, so long as the government side of the equation had "streamlined" their permitting processes so that the money goes to broadband, not red tape, said Republicans.
The $3 billion fund for wireless would also be administered by NTIA using FCC maps.
The money would be targeted to rural and unserved areas, with the goal being to spur deployment "duplicative and wasteful overbuilding."
The Biden plan funds municipal networks and makes price and competition part of the calculus for where broadband is considered to be available.
"By relying on a light-touch regulatory environment and targeted investments—rather than cumbersome government-run networks—we will ensure reliable, affordable access for the communities who need it most," said House Energy & Commerce Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) and Communications Subcommittee ranking member Bob Latta (R-Ohio).
The bill would also place shot clocks on cable franchise authorities as a way to speed deployment, as well as streamline permitting for cable ops to speed the application process.
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.
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