The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) administrator said today that the Federal government’s recent historic investment in broadband is this generation’s one chance to connect everyone in the country.
“We are not going to get tens of billions of dollars to do this again. This is our shot at getting everybody connected,” NTIA chief Alan Davidson said at the 2023 State of the Net Conference on March 6.
“This is our generation’s big infrastructure project,” he said. “This is our chance to connect everybody in the country with what they need to thrive in modern digital economy.”
Davidson explained that millions of American households still do not have access to basic broadband service, and that closing the digital divide has been a hot topic of conversation in the Federal government for the past two decades.
With his signature on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in November 2021, President Biden directed $65 billion to help close the digital divide and ensure that all Americans have access to reliable, high speed, and affordable broadband.
This investment enables the funding for broadband deployment provided in the Internet For All programs – which NTIA, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Departments of Treasury and Agriculture are leading.
“This historic investment will lay critical groundwork for widespread access and affordability of broadband, creating new jobs and economic opportunities, providing increased access to healthcare services, enriching educational experiences of students, and improving overall quality of life for all Americans,” NITA’s website says.
On the flip side of connectivity, Davidson recognized that stronger privacy protections must be put in place for people regularly accessing the internet – something Congress has failed to do, time and time again over the past 15 years.
“We need stronger privacy protections for people everywhere in the country, and Federal privacy legislation is the right place for us to be,” the NTIA administrator said.
He continued, “In the meantime, we’re going to do as much as we can to shine light on the problems that are out there, push for greater enforcement, and ultimately support legislation as it comes along.”
Davidson also said NTIA is trying to build a Center of Excellence within the agency to think more deeply about implications of new technologies.
“How do we make sure we’re building our technology and our communication for human progress,” he asked, adding, “How do we make sure we’re building technologies of freedom and not technologies of control?”
“These are issues that now effect people in their everyday lives,” Davidson said. “We need more cross-cutting structures that can think in a deeper way about the implications of the technology that we’re building, and that could move more quickly if you think about how we put the guardrails in place that allow us to innovate but safely.”