Today, TechFreedom filed comments in response to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) request for comment (RFC) on use of the federal government’s Uniform Guidance rules in the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. In these comments, TechFreedom addresses how to avoid adopting rules that drive out existing Internet Service Providers (ISP)—companies in the best position to close the digital divide.

“Traditional funding rules may provide massive disincentives to existing broadband providers,” said James Dunstan, TechFreedom’s General Counsel. “These providers have already invested almost $2 trillion of private capital since 1996. In almost each instance, for existing broadband providers, the BEAD money will go toward expanding their existing networks into areas where there is simply no economic basis for deployment because of the cost, low population density, or even low demand for service. These new facilities will be integrated into larger networks, making it nearly impossible for the implementation of many of the conditions imposed by the Uniform Guidance rules.”

“The Uniform Guidance rules were adopted to govern stand-alone grants,” Dunstan continued. “Applying them in this instance makes little sense. The NTIA should look instead at how the FCC has structured accounting and payments in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), wherein the FCC is providing over $20 billion over ten years for broadband deployment in some of the most difficult and expensive areas in the nation. Recipients of RDOF funding are required to meet verifiable deployment milestones in order to receive continued funding from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), which administers the program. Such deployment milestones are typical in other broadband deployment programs as well, and broadband providers are familiar with these types of programmatic requirements.”


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