Describe the broadband provisions of the Build Back Better Act
With the adoption by the United States House of Representatives of a large-scale infrastructure package, the main players in the broadband and telecommunications space are now considering the provisions relating to broadband in another piece of legislation.
Tit $ 1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act spends approximately $ 1 billion on the affordability and accessibility of broadband, as well as funding for committees and outreach efforts.
The legislation provides for a $ 475 million grant for devices such as laptops and tablets under the Connected Devices Grant program. As part of the program, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration would administer the funding to community groups that would distribute devices to eligible Americans. Another provision allocates $ 100 million for outreach efforts on various broadband accessibility programs through the Federal Communications Commission.
These are two of the most important broadband components of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, according to former representative Rick Boucher, D-Va., now Honorary President of the Internet Innovation Alliance.
“Other things we saw in the infrastructure bill would help low-income Americans afford a connection, but the [Connected Device Grant] The program would make sure they have a device they can use for that connection, ”Boucher said in an interview with S&P Global Market Intelligence. In terms of outreach, he noted that a lack of knowledge about available programs can significantly hamper enrollment numbers.
The Federal Communications Commission Broadband Emergency Benefit Program, a pandemic grant program to help low-income Americans stay connected to the Internet, has been rolled out in May. Although the program was funded, the outreach efforts were not paid for under the law. The program got off to a good start in enrollment, but experts said more publicity and outreach efforts were needed to better capture more eligible households.
Other provisions of the Build Back Better plan include funding to create committees that would advise on 6G wireless, as well as to help build affordable connectivity in urban and suburban areas.
While the Rebuild better includes several components to enable more broadband access, the $ 1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the House on Nov. 5 carries more weight for the telecommunications space, said Matt Wood, vice policy chairman and general counsel of the Free Press media freedom group.
“The [infrastructure] bill has higher spending on broadband deployment, digital equity and affordability, ”Wood said, adding that he would like to see both packages passed.
The infrastructure bill allocates $ 65 for broadband projects, compared to just $ 1 billion in the Build Back Better legislation. Of the $ 65 billion allocated, $ 14.20 billion, or nearly 22%, is earmarked for the creation of the Affordable Connectivity Fund. The fund is an extension and a redesign of the existing Emergency broadband service program and was viewed by experts as a longer-term connectivity grant.
Other related provisions of the Build Back Better plan include strong investments in cybersecurity through the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, as well as the creation of a privacy office within the Federal Trade Commission. .
All in all, the likelihood of going from Build Back Better is still uncertain. The House is awaiting an economic analysis from the Congressional Budget Office of the long-term impacts of the budget deficit bill, known as the CBO score. If the House ultimately passes the bill, it will travel to the Senate, where the legislation may undergo further changes.
In a tweet on November 5, the president said he was confident the law would pass the House during the week of November 15.
“Anyone can guess what’s going to happen at this point,” said The IIA’s Boucher. “We don’t watch this day by day, but hour by hour.”