The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is beginning an epic effort to implement the broadband provisions of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Congress allocated $42.45 billion to build rural broadband through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Development (BEAD) Program, and these resources have the potential to provide internet access to most if not all households that do not currently have access.
NTIA states in its Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) that its focus is to provide service to unserved and underserved areas. To better achieve that overriding goal, it can make changes across five broad areas to reduce costs and expand access:
- Competition: Maximize competition to provide service
- Evaluation: Incorporate standardized metrics, data gathering, evaluation, and feedback
- Pricing Rules: Ensure that grant recipients cannot set monopoly prices where they are the first and only provider
- Administration: Help states and territories keep administrative costs down
- Secondary Objectives: Estimate the cost of secondary objectives and set thresholds above which NTIA believes it is not worth sacrificing resources for broadband buildout
Following these guidelines will increase the impact of public spending on broadband service.