VP Harris Promotes NTIA-Administered Broadband Funds

VP Kamala Harris

The Biden Administration took a "the glass is one-tenth empty" approach to stumping for closing the broadband divide this week.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who was deputized by President Joe Biden to oversee universal broadband, traveled with Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves to Louisiana, where some of the billions of dollars in broadband subsidies is going. The state is also the stomping grounds of Mitch Landrieu, White House Infrastructure Coordinator.

In promoting the road trip, Commerce said it was so the officials could hear "directly from Louisianans about "the struggles they face due to the stark digital divide and lack of access to fast, affordable, and reliable broadband."

Also: NTIA Says Closing Digital Divide Is Job One

That was the set-up for the kicker that "help was on the way" thanks to the $65 billion in infrastructure spending in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act that the President pushed but Congress also had to pass.

Graves pointed out that more than 30 million people (or something under 10%) don't have access to "reliable broadband" a problem he said was worse in minority and rural areas. Graves said that the fact that over 10% of Louisianans lack broadband infrastructure was "an injustice that must end."

And while Harris illustrated the actions the Biden Administration was taking to close the digital divide with last month's announcement of $277 million in broadband grants to 13 states overseen by Commerce Department's National Telecommunications & Information Administration, according to a Commerce press release about the Louisiana trip, she made no mention of this month's $640 million in funding the FCC authorized under the several-years old Rural Digital Opportunity broadband fund to help close the digital divide in 26 states. ■

John Eggerton

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.