CWA urges NTIA to focus on job creation
The Communications Workers of America and the Speed Matters campaign urged the NTIA to make broadband investment that creates and preserves good jobs the highest priority of the broadband initiatives funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
CWA is convinced that the NTIA's Broadband Technologies Opportunity Program (BTOP) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) broadband grant and loan program must focus on investment in broadband projects that create and preserve quality jobs, jumpstart the economy and promote the long-term competitiveness of the United States.
With 13.2 million Americans currently unemployed, the first consideration in grant allocations must be putting Americans back to work.
The $7.2 billion broadband initiative is a first step in addressing our nation’s three gaps in broadband as identified by CWA’s Speed Matters campaign:
- Lack of access to any broadband by an estimated 10-12 million households;
- Slow speeds compared to our global competitors;
- Adoption barriers due to the cost or technological challenges to computer ownership and use and Internet access.
CWA made a series of other key recommendations in its filing to the NTIA and RUS:
- The focus of network deployment grants should be on unserved areas -- defined as an areas without at least one non-satellite facilities-based provider of non-dial-up Internet service -- and networks that serve government agencies and community anchor institutions (schools, libraries, rural health centers, community centers, etc.);
- Some grants should be made to scalable high-speed projects in underserved areas;
- Grants should provide for digital literacy promotion, subsidies for computer ownership and broadband access delivered by community based organizations and public agencies to increase broadband adoption;
- Require grant recipients to report the number of jobs created and the wages/compensation of those jobs to ensure enforcement of Buy America and prevailing wage provisions;
- Establish minimum speed requirements of 3mbps down and 1mbps up for network deployment;
- Rank grant proposals based on speed, number of new households and locations connected, number of jobs created, number of low-income households served;
- Ensure that projects can be started quickly and are sustainable, and that recipients have a track record of success and that grant-funded projects are scalable.
- Preserve an open Internet by requiring grant recipients to abide by the FCC’s Open Internet principles and current Internet traffic exchange and peering norms.
The $7.2 billion broadband initiative included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act are intended to improve broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas, increase broadband education and adoption, improve access to broadband by public safety agencies and community anchor institutions, stimulate the economy and create quality jobs.
NTIA’s public comment period ended April 13.
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