The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced an interagency agreement to share information about and coordinate the distribution of broadband deployment federal funds. Leaders announced their agencies would consult with one another and share information about the distribution of new funds from the FCC’s high-cost programs that support broadband buildout in rural areas, the USDA’s Rural Utilities Services grant and loan programs and program administered by NTIA.
“Generations ago, the federal government recognized that without affordable access to electricity, Americans couldn’t fully participate in modern society and the modern economy. Broadband internet is the new electricity. It is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, participate equally in school learning, health care and to stay connected,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
“The last 15 months demonstrated like never before that broadband is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Congress rightfully funded broadband deployment at levels we’ve seldom seen in recent years in response to the pandemic,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.
“Access to reliable, affordable high-speed broadband is critical to the economic well-being of communities and small businesses across America. This lays important groundwork for collaboration between agencies to ensure the federal government’s effort to expand broadband access are as effective and efficient as possible., reaching every corner of the country,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Giuna M. Raimondo.
As part of the agreement, each federal agency partner will share information about existing or planned projects that receive funding from the previous federal funding sources. Each partner will also identify entities providing broadband service in a specified geographic area; the level of broadband service in that area, including broadband speeds and technologies deployed; the geographic scope of broadband service in that area and each entity in that area that has or will receive funds from these programs.