Government Relations Update November 2022
By Matthew Hall, Internet2 External Relations Program Manager
Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives Releases First Report
The Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives (OMBI) at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) within the Department of Commerce has released its inaugural report to Congress. In compliance with the requirements laid out in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA), which established OMBI within NTIA’s Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth (OICG), OMBI’s report identifies barriers to high-speed internet access in minority communities while also outlining the role the office has played so far in achieving digital equity across the United States. The report divides barriers into three categories: Availability, Affordability, and Adoption. It also establishes a series of next steps that aim to address these barriers in the years ahead, with a particular focus on supporting and building capacity at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs).
Some highlights of OMBI’s accomplishments in the past year include:
• Administering the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC) and granting over $20 million in the program’s first ten awards.
• Collaborating with federal, state, tribal, and anchor institution stakeholders through interagency outreach, partnerships with national advocacy organizations, and support of NTIA’s Digital Equity Leaders Network re-launch.
• Building the capacity of anchor institutions and their communities through ongoing technical assistance activities exceeding 2,000 participants.
More details can be found in the full 42-page report.
FCC Releases New Draft Broadband Map
On November 18, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a pre-production draft of its new National Broadband Map to the public. The National Broadband Map provides consumers, providers, and policymakers with a tool to better understand where internet services are and are not available, as well as a window into the general quality of service being offered. This new map is intended to be a considerable improvement over previous maps, offering a new level of detail and accuracy to aid users that was previously unavailable. This is achieved in part by a shift towards location-specific information rather than the census block level data that was previously collected by the FCC.
The release of this new map is intended to be the first step in an iterative process that will improve the accuracy of the map over time, particularly through the vital public challenge process. All providers will be required to report data twice per year: data as of June 30, each year (due September 1), and data as of December 31, each year (due March 1).
Additional information on the new National Broadband Map, including a news release, public notice, and fact sheet, can be found on the FCC’s website.