Bridging the Digital Divide
(Updated July 14, 2021)
When the pandemic hit America in March 2020, our lives were changed in an instant. Many employees switched to working from home and utilized video conferencing for business continuity. Teachers were teaching students in new ways through remote learning. Doctors assessed medical conditions of patients via telehealth. Even weddings were taking place virtually. So, it is no surprise that the network performance report by Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group found a surge in broadband usage—as much as a 60% increase in some areas. Yet, despite the increase, many Americans still lack access to high-speed internet.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a quarter of the population in rural areas and nearly one-third of Americans living on tribal lands do not have high-speed broadband (25/3 Mbps). The cost to build or upgrade broadband networks and infrastructure are too steep for these small remote towns in America to afford. Over the years, the Commission has worked to close this gap through various grants and funding, such as the Rural Development Opportunity Fund (RDOF), Connect America Fund, E-Rate program, and more. Other government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), are also on a mission to bridge the digital divide.
On May 19, 2021, the NTIA released a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Broadband Infrastructure Program, which provides $288 million in grant funding for the deployment of broadband infrastructure by covered partnerships. The NOFO states that the NTIA will prioritize any broadband infrastructure deployment which aligns with its interest, such as “projects in areas that are the most rural” and future-proof projects that can deliver 100/20 Mbps speeds, and fiber. Award amounts will likely be between $5 and $30 million. Applications are due by 11:59 PM on August 17th, and the NTIA expects to select and process awards by November 15th.
What does this mean for WISP customers and telecom resellers? If you haven’t already, you can now tap into the NTIA’s Broadband Infrastructure Program to deliver high-speed broadband access to many unserved or underserved areas in America!
Watch our on demand webinar to learn more about the NTIA’s Broadband Infrastructure Program, and how to leverage Airspan and Mimosa by Airspan groundbreaking technology to deploy the most cost-effective solutions in rural areas.