Skip to main content

Public Policy Update

The Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) brings great momentum for public policy into 2024, which comes on the heels of a fly-in that took place last November on Capitol Hill. Led by FBA President & CEO Gary Bolton and myself, we were joined by executives from our member companies who met with legislators and their staff, allowing for policymakers to familiarize themselves with the broad fiber optic ecosystem that our membership represents. The group advocated for many FBA priorities, especially a need for additional funding for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and permitting reforms. In December at the FBA Premier Member Meeting in Palm Springs, public policy committee members shared their input on our 2024 policy goals, mainly where and how do we grow our engagement and conversation with legislators. The result will be more opportunities for more members to meet with policymakers, new public policy subcommittees and working groups, and more public policy research. Stay tuned!

Fiber Day on the Hill

On April 11, 2024, FBA will host our second annual “Fiber Day on the Hill” in Washington, DC. Last year, this event brought over 200 bipartisan attendees from Congress and the Administration and was an incredible, interactive educational opportunity to learn about fiber broadband. This year’s Fiber Day on the Hill will bring exciting new demos, while maintaining a focus on the fundamentals of fiber and the opportunity to learn to splice fiber as part of the event. Fiber Day on the Hill provides an opportunity for participants to see demo stations presented by FBA members that explain what fiber is and how it improves U.S. households, communities, and the economy. We hope you will participate in this event. Please reach out to FBA to learn more about this opportunity.

Quarterly Overview

Broadband Equity, Access, and Development (BEAD) Grants 

On December 15, 2023, Louisiana became the first state to receive approval for its Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program proposal and this quarter brought additional approvals of proposals. With much anticipation, FBA is working to help our members navigate grant criteria and continues to advocate for ongoing BEAD priorities.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) BEAD timeline predicts that most funding distribution will start by late 2024 into early 2025. As a reminder, NTIA has a great BEAD proposal tracker on the Internet for All website:

Letter of Credit Requirement

An important issue that FBA advocated for on behalf of our membership was the irrevocable standby Letter of Credit (LOC) requirement for subgrantees receiving support under BEAD.

FBA supports assuring that all parties have the financial capabilities to complete projects, yet the initial proposal reached beyond what we believed necessary to achieve that goal. NTIA responded to stakeholder input by issuing a programmatic waiver on November 1, 2023, that will ensure more midsize and small providers, which have long supported underserved communities, have a fair opportunity to participate in the historic BEAD program and connect Americans to high-speed fiber broadband. The waiver modifies the LOC requirement for subgrantees of all Eligible Entities in the following ways: Allow Credit Unions to Issue LOCs; Allow Use of Performance Bonds; Allow Eligible Entities to Reduce the Obligation Upon Completion of Milestones; and Allow for an Alternative Initial LOC or Performance Bond Percentage.

Uniform Guidance

NTIA released a policy notice on December 26, 2023, providing “tailoring” on the application of the Uniform Guidance in the BEAD program. The Uniform Guidance is the federal government’s framework for grants management, providing rules and requirements for federal grant programs. NTIA guidance addresses program income; fixed amount subgrants, enables service providers to make network upgrades without prior approval; and establishes a ten-year Federal Interest period for broadband infrastructure projects after the network is constructed.

Availability of Advanced Telecommunications Capability to all Americans

FBA submitted comments on December 1, 2023, to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Section 706 Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”) “concerning the ‘availability of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans.’” The FCC is required to conduct this inquiry on an annual basis to evaluate the state of broadband across the country and consider many characteristics of broadband deployment, including affordability, adoption, availability, and equitable access when determining whether broadband is being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion. FBA encourages the FCC to create a long-term gigabit symmetric, low latency benchmark in tandem with other federal agencies.

Open Internet Regulation

The FCC has proposed classifying broadband internet access services as a telecommunications service and imposing common carrier and “open internet” regulations on broadband service providers. FBA believes this is both unwarranted and will undermine broadband investment, particularly in fiber infrastructure and service innovation. In December, FBA filed comments in opposition to this proposal. Congress, not the FCC, should address this issue.

Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)

In early January, Chairwoman Rosenworcel and the FCC communicated wind-down guidance for the ACP to industry and households subscribed to the program. With over 20 million households subscribed to this program, FBA encourages Congress to appropriate funding to continue this program, which has been integral in keeping Americans connected to the internet and allows them to participate in all aspects of the economy and society. We appreciate the bipartisan, bicameral leadership on this issue and support the legislation introduced in early January that would allocate $7 billion in additional funding for the ACP. The legislation was introduced by Senators Peter Welch (D-VT) and J.D. Vance (R-OH) and Representatives Yvette Clarke (D-NY) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and we appreciate their leadership. This is an issue that impacts every congressional district and while Congress looks for long-term reforms, the ACP should continue to be funded. 

Fiber Broadband Association Public Policy Leadership

FBA’s Public Policy Committee is led by co-chairs Chris Champion, Vice President, Government Affairs, C Spire; and Jordan Gross, Manager of Federal Government Affairs, Corning. Ariane Schaffer, Government & Public Policy, Google Fiber, is the FBA Board Liaison. If your company is interested in joining the public policy committee, please email to join.