Arlington, VA — A coalition of policy leaders and organizations have expressed serious concerns regarding the Biden administration’s approach to broadband internet access services. Despite clear legal stipulations and congressional intent outlined in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has been perceived to impose rate regulations through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program. This action is believed to undermine existing law and disrupt the established non-regulatory framework designed by Congress, prompting a formal appeal to Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, for clarification and reevaluation.

Key Takeaways:

  • Contradiction to Legislative Intent: The administration’s actions, including stipulations in state broadband plans under the BEAD program, appear to contravene the IIJA’s explicit prohibition against rate regulation of broadband services.
  • Concerns Over Legal Compliance: Questions have been raised regarding the NTIA’s adherence to statutory requirements, with significant debate during recent Congressional hearings about the legal boundaries of the NTIA’s authority.
  • Implications for State Flexibility: The requirement for states to include specific pricing in their broadband plans has sparked debates about federal overreach and the potential stifling of state autonomy.
  • Economic and Operational Impact: There is concern that mandated rate settings could deter participation by qualified broadband providers, potentially hindering efforts to close the digital divide and impacting the broader goal of expanding reliable internet access across the nation.

The coalition urges Secretary Raimondo to ensure that the NTIA’s implementation of the BEAD program aligns with congressional intent by removing any de facto rate regulation from the approval process for state broadband plans. We call on all stakeholders, including policymakers and the public, to support a transparent and lawful approach to expanding broadband access without imposing undue regulatory burdens on states and providers.

Read the full letter here.

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