NTIA/Broadband USA wants to provide updates on the progress of the US Department of Treasury’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds’ Interim Final Rule (IFR). Treasury has recently issued FAQs that can be found at this link on the broadband provision of the IFR.
Per the US Department of Treasury, this FAQ update provides answers to questions raised by a number of stakeholders on eligible areas for broadband infrastructure investment. The update clarifies that states and localities may invest in areas where not all households or businesses are unserved or underserved, as long as an objective of the project is to provide service to unserved or underserved households or businesses. Further, it clarifies that the use of “reliably” in the broadband provision of the IFR provides states and localities with significant discretion to assess the actual experience of users on the ground.
Specifically, the FAQ update addresses the following questions:
- For broadband infrastructure investments, what does the requirement that infrastructure “be designed to” provide service to unserved or underserved households and businesses mean?
- For broadband infrastructure to provide service to “unserved or underserved households or businesses,” must every house or business in the service area be unserved or underserved?
- For broadband infrastructure investments, what does the requirement to “reliably” meet or exceed a broadband speed threshold mean?
- May recipients use payments from the Funds for “middle mile” broadband projects?
Treasury regularly updates FAQs to provide further clarification on the IFR, and is committed to responding expeditiously to questions and concerns. They also encourage interested stakeholders to submit comments for the record to ensure that their perspectives are reflected in the public comments during the 60-day public comment period on the IFR. These comments will be considered as part of the process for revising the rule.
As a reminder, BroadbandUSA collects information on more than 80 federal programs across 14 federal agencies, including the US Department of Treasury, whose funding can be used for broadband-related purposes. You can visit this comprehensive “one-stop shop” for broadband resources here: Federal Funding | BroadbandUSA (doc.gov).