The Importance of Equitable Internet Access and Broadband for All
NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson discussed the importance of equitable internet access for all Americans and shared expansion plans.
Air Date: June 30, 2022
Moderator: Jordan Crenshaw, Vice President, C_TEC, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Featured Guests: Alan Davidson, Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, U.S. Department of Commerce
Digital privacy and equitable access have been issues of concern for all administrations since the internet's creation. Creating a globally interconnected future that is affordable for all Americans is a top priority for organizations like the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
As the President's team of principal advisers on telecommunications policies, NTIA serves a vital role in connecting the private sector with the federal government. In a TecTalk interview hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson spoke about critical initiatives, broadband deployment and affordability, and other tech issues in a digital world.
Federal and Private Sectors Must Work Together to Ensure Equitable Technology Access
It's easier to enact change if federal and private sectors work together to create new policies or generate new ideas. This was the thought behind the Spectrum Coordination Initiative — a joint effort between the FCC and NTIA to strengthen spectrum coordination and policy processes.
"We launched the spectrum coordination initiative early in my tenure in March," Davidson explained. "The idea was really to make sure our teams were meeting regularly, that we were exchanging technical information, that we committed to working on a spectrum strategy together [and] on some big technical coordination projects together."
According to Davidson, this has been a successful initiative thus far with regular meetings between both groups.
"We really feel it's imperative to make sure that the commercial needs for spectrum [and] that the private sector needs for spectrum are met so that we have a competitive wireless industry, [and] can give people the services that they need," he explained.
Families at All Income Levels Should Have Access to the Internet
For Davidson, providing families with the services they need has been a high priority for many years. The NTIA recently announced the Notice of Funding Opportunities, or the "Internet for All" program, which includes a provision to establish a middle-class affordability program.
"Our modest mission is to connect everyone in America — rural America, urban America — with high speed, reliable, affordable internet access. And it's a generational moment to do that," Davidson said. "It doesn't do a lot of good for a family if we've run a wire past their house or gotten them the ability to get online, but they can't afford the connection."
The money from this program comes from the bipartisan infrastructure law of nearly $45 billion specifically designed to expand broadband deployment.
"If we're going to be spending federal money to build these networks," Davidson continued, "we think that working families ought to also have a shot at being able to afford them."
The Private Sector Should Take the Lead on Issues of Cybersecurity and Global Digital Connection
Davidson emphasized the private sector will play a pivotal role in broadband deployment and these networks will be built by the private sector.
"A lot of this is work that the private sector needs to take the lead on," he said. "So I would say, first of all, [the private sector should] [engage] in the privacy debate and the conversation on capital health. [Be] flexible and open-minded and [think] about the long game here, which is ultimately where we're better off."
Davidson concluded by restating the importance of private sector innovation and the importance of this moment in time to provide equitable internet access throughout the United States.
"Generations before us brought water and electricity to rural America. They built the interstate highway system," he said. "This is our generation's moment."