NTIA: State Broadband Initiatives Need To Demonstrate Value of Mapping, Planning Efforts

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 2, 2013 - Demonstrating the importance of broadband planning and mapping at the statewide and local levels is the key priority for the remaining 18 months of the State Broadband Initiative program, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the program said at a Wednesday event attended by SBI directors. 

Because there will not be funding available at the federal level for the state broadband program, it is imperative for state programs to be able to demonstrate their value to state and local stakeholders, said Larry Strickling, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce responsible for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s SBI program.

Addressing a room of about 100 state broadband initiative representatives at their third annual meeting and planning session in Washington, Strickling said that President Obama’s FY2014 federal budget did not include any additional funding to continue the program beyond its original five-year period.

In the federal budget proposal, Strickling said, “there wasn't any allocation to continue this program past 2014. We were planning, and had sought funding, to allow us to do grants next year, to take effect in 2015.”

“The decision was made at the most senior levels not to find the dollars that it would take going into 2015,” he said.

Strickling said that he expected that the Federal Communications Commission will assume a leadership role of the mapping initiative, through the FCC’s Form 477, which requires broadband providers to submit broadband data to the FCC.

"The state broadband initiative entities have provided an enormous value to their citizens," Strickling said.
 The collection of this data undertaken through the State Broadband Initiative allows consumers, economic developers and others to find broadband near them. This data is the backbone of Broadband Illinois' popular "Find Broadband" tool and of the National Broadband Map (http://broadbandmap.gov), a joint project of the NTIA and the FCC.

"Our hope is that the FCC will work closely with states to maintain the same level of accuracy and quality," Strickling said. "But our main focus should be finishing the remaining 18 months of state broadband efforts and working to educate the FCC and others on the importance of this effort."

Strickling also commented on the fledgling national public safety network, FirstNet.

"State broadband initiative programs can assist with FirstNet efforts though determine existing assets such as existing towers, backhaul and other inventory," he said. "However, it is up to the state's FirstNet authority to determine the level of involvement from the State Broadband Initiative entities."

Tags: FCC, FirstNet, National Broadband Map, NTIA

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