NTIA Heeds Luján, Heinrich, Welch’s Call to Streamline Broadband Funding
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Chair of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and U.S. Senator Peter Welch (D-Vt.) welcomed the announcement from the Department of Commerce and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on the Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program’s expansion to allow waiver bypass the Letter of Credit (LOC) requirement to be more inclusive to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in rural communities.
Last week, Senators Luján, Heinrich, and Welch led their colleagues in a letter to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and Assistant Secretary of Commerce Alan Davidson urging consideration of alternatives to the BEAD program’s Letter of Credit (LOC) requirement, which can prevent Internet Service Providers best positioned to connect unserved and underserved Americans from participating in the BEAD program.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law included historic investments to connect communities across New Mexico to high-speed broadband. I’m glad that Administrator Davidson heeded our call to allow Tribal entities, municipalities, credit unions, and smaller broadband providers to fully participate in connecting families in New Mexico and across the country,” said Senator Luján, Chair of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband. “As Chairman, I have an oversight responsibility to ensure good stewardship of federal funds at NTIA. This waiver authority relies on tested tools to ensure broadband providers are able to complete the work while also providing flexibility to better connect New Mexicans. I remain committed to closing the digital divide for rural and Tribal communities, and I look forward to working with the administration to responsibly implement the BEAD program.”
“Our Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is delivering historic levels of federal investments to connect New Mexicans in every corner of our state to affordable and reliable high-speed internet. I am pleased that the NTIA listened to our feedback on how to improve access to these investments for rural, Tribal, and smaller communities. I will keep working to connect every New Mexico household to high-speed internet so we can all access education, health care, and economic opportunities,” said Senator Heinrich.
“When things aren’t working for the folks at home, it’s up to us to come together and make the collective voices of our constituents heard. I’m encouraged that the NTIA listened to the bipartisan calls from Vermont and states across the country,” said Sen. Welch, member of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Rural Development and Energy Subcommittee. “There’s no reason red tape should get in the way for the small ISPs and public broadband entities, including Vermont’s Communications Union Districts (CUDs), that power the unserved and underserved rural communities we’re fighting to connect. These small fixes are a great step forward and will make big changes in the long-term success of the BEAD program, a priority of many of ours in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. I look forward to continuing to work with the NTIA on behalf of Vermont’s CUDs and ISPs to ensure that every corner of the state is connected.”
In addition to Senators Luján, Heinrich, and Welch, the bipartisan letter was also signed by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).