US Government influences in telco’s architecture

DFN: Overview of government’s influence on telecommunications developments in new networks / technology.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009
An Introduction to Broadband Infrastructure Programs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Broadband infrastructure refers to networks of deployed telecommunications equipment and
technologies necessary to provide high-speed Internet access and other advanced
telecommunications services for private homes, businesses, commercial establishments, schools,
and public institutions. In the United States, broadband infrastructure is constructed, operated,
and maintained primarily by the private sector, including telephone, cable, satellite, wireless, and
other information technology companies. Currently deployed broadband technologies include
cable modem, DSL (copper wire), wireless systems (mobile and fixed), fiber, and satellite.
Although broadband is deployed by private sector providers, federal and state regulation of the
telecommunications industry as well as government financial assistance programs can have a
significant impact on private sector decisions to invest in and deploy broadband infrastructure,
particularly in underserved and unserved areas of the nation.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, P.L. 111-5) provided $7.2 billion
primarily for broadband grant programs to be administered by two separate agencies: the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) of the Department of Commerce
(DOC) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Of
the $7.2 billion total, the ARRA provided $4.7 billion to establish a Broadband Technology
Opportunities Program (BTOP) at NTIA, and $2.5 billion for broadband grant, loan, and
loan/grant combination programs at RUS. The ARRA also directed the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) to develop a national broadband strategy. In comparison with previously
existing federal broadband programs in the United States, the broadband grant and loan
programs established and funded by P.L. 111-5 are unprecedented in scale and scope.

The impetus behind broadband provisions in the ARRA was two-fold: in the short term, to create
jobs through the construction and deployment of broadband infrastructure, and in the long term,
to address concerns over economic and societal impacts of inadequate broadband availability,
access, and adoption, particularly in rural and lower-income areas of the nation. The
unprecedented scale and scope of the ARRA broadband programs, coupled with the short time
frame for awarding grants, presents daunting challenges with respect to program implementation
as well as Congressional oversight.



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