July 11, 2018
The Honorable Greg Walden, Chairman
The Honorable Frank Pallone, Ranking Member
Committee on Energy and Commerce
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Re: July 12, 2018 Committee Markup of H.R. 3994, ACCESS BROADBAND Act
Dear Chairman Walden and Ranking Member Pallone:
On behalf of the Fiber Broadband Association, I am writing in support H.R. 3994, The Advancing Critical Connectivity Expands Service, Small Business Resources, Opportunities, Access and Data Based on Assessed Need and Demand Act (ACCESS BROADBAND Act). This legislation, authored by Representatives Tonko and Lance, creates the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and directs it to engage in various activities including to assist communities in obtaining high-speed broadband service and streamline the process for accessing federal support.
In 2015, NTIA initiated the BroadbandUSA program to assist communities in obtaining the broadband connectivity they need to foster economic development, enhance education and health care, and support public safety. The Fiber Broadband Association supports this program, which has the same aim as our Community Toolkit, launched five years ago. Because of our shared mission, we have developed a good working relationship with NTIA to help communities get the broadband infrastructure they need. We can testify to the value of these activities, and we therefore are heartened by the Energy and Commerce Committee’s consideration of the ACCESS BROADBAND Act, which was reported by the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology last month. The Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth that the draft would establish will not only carry on the activities of the BroadbandUSA program, but also expand them to track, streamline, and coordinate federal broadband support programs – which NTIA is already working on as part of the Administration’s interagency effort. These activities are critical to ensuring that limited federal support is awarded, as the draft directs, “in an efficient, technology-neutral, and financially sustainable manner” to locations that are truly unserved.
We urge the Committee to report the ACCESS BROADBAND Act and to press for a vote by the full House as soon as possible.