November 5, 2021
The logjam has broken with House passage (and President Biden’s expected signature) of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) with $65 billion earmarked for broadband deployment and affordability.
When the Senate cleared the same plan back in August, I called it a generational and hopefully transformational investment in network deployment, affordability, cybersecurity and digital equity.
I also was candid and said what the Senate passed was “far from perfect” and the rushed and unorthodox legislative process would mean the nitty gritty implementation details will matter – a lot.
But, on balance, this infrastructure package represented meaningful progress to advance America’s shared connectivity goals.
How do I feel today? About the same.
Everything I said remains true, but I’d add something that gets overlooked in the process debates and political prognostication: this funding will not be deployed in a vacuum.
What do I mean?
If you boil it down, this plan is actually the federal government (working with states) smartly leveraging nearly two trillion dollars, relentless innovation, expertise, and the sweat equity of broadband providers in every corner of the country over the past 25 years.
It recognizes the private model of broadband deployment in the United States – with targeted public support in unserved or hard to reach communities – is the key to achieving 100 percent connectivity.
Sure, it’s a foundation to build on, but it’s more than that. Broadband providers have built a networking miracle that carried the country through the worst of the pandemic and have been a technological and economic lifeline.
At the end of the day, the best and highest purpose of this infrastructure funding is to augment private capital and ingenuity to finish the job of connecting every home, business, student, healthcare provider and innovator in the country.
That’s exactly what we’re built to do.
Jonathan Spalter is President and CEO of USTelecom – The Broadband Association.
USTelecom data and research on the competitive U.S. broadband marketplace: