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Wittman Seeks Answers on Responsible Broadband Funding
Washington, January 19, 2022
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) announced his letter to The Honorable Alan Davidson, the recently confirmed Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The NTIA is the main agency charged with administering and overseeing the billions of dollars appropriated by Congress intended to close the digital divide. In his letter, Congressman Wittman requests timely answers to questions relating to the responsible allocation of funding for broadband to unserved and underserved areas.
In his letter, Congressman Wittman urges Administrator Davidson to prevent duplicative and wasteful spending in order to prioritize funding for the truly unserved communities that lack any broadband connection rather than funding duplicative or upgraded service in areas that currently have broadband service. To read Congressman Wittman’s full letter, click here or read below.
January 13, 2022
The Honorable Alan Davidson
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20230
Congratulations on your appointment and confirmation to head the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginians, and all Americans, have relied on high-speed internet connections more than ever before to telework, participate in distance-learning, access telehealth, and touch base with friends and family. However, the benefits of reliable high-quality internet remain out of reach for hundreds of thousands of Virginians and millions of Americans. The digital divide is even more prevalent to those living in rural areas, some of which still lack basic broadband connections.
Through the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act, and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Congress provided billions of dollars for various programs across federal agencies to bridge the digital divide.
The main agency charged with administering and overseeing these billions of dollars appropriated by Congress is the NTIA. Over the last two years, these pieces of legislation provided the NTIA nearly $1.5 billion to expand broadband access for the truly unserved, and Tribal lands, $42 Billion for broadband deployment, $2.75 billion for “digital Equity” grants, and $1 billion for middle mile broadband infrastructure.
Given the billions of dollars concurrently being pushed out for broadband infrastructure deployment, Congress must have a strong interest in preventing duplicative and wasteful spending causing overbuilding. As NTIA works to allocate grants pursuant to these laws, I urge you to prioritize funding for the truly unserved communities that lack any broadband connection rather than funding duplicative or upgraded service in areas that currently have broadband service. These truly unserved communities should be identified based in the data created by the Broadband DATA Act. I understand the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is still undertaking the process of implementing the Broadband DATA Act requirements, however, federal agencies, including the NTIA, should rely on the upcoming coverage maps for potential eligible funding projects.
To gain a better understanding of the NTIA’s efforts to administer these dollars, I request information to the following questions:
Thank you for your assistance, and we look forward to your timely responses. If you have any questions, please contact my office at 202-225-4261.
Robert J. Wittman
Member of Congress