The FCC, the Department of Agriculture, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (which oversees all broadband subsidy programs), and the Treasury Department signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to committing to share “information on and to collaborate concerning the collection and communication of certain data and measures relating to the deployment of broadband.”
They also agreed, where possible, to develop “coherent, complementary and uniform formats, standards, protocols and communication processes for such data”.
For its part, the FCC has been scrambling to gather better data on where broadband broadband is and isn’t given the tens of billions of dollars spent in subsidies.
The memorandum of understanding, which spans two years but will almost certainly be renewed, comes as the Biden administration on Friday announced funding opportunity notices for $45 billion in NTIA grants, mostly to States for their own broadband deployment and adoption programs. .
As part of the agreement, the agencies will share information about projects that have won funding – or will receive funding – under their respective broadband subsidy programs. They will also make this data available to the public. The memorandum of understanding complements, rather than replaces, a June 2021 memorandum of understanding between the agencies “to coordinate the distribution of federal funds for broadband internet.”
The FCC is overseeing billions in Universal Service Fund broadband grants as well as COVID-19-related emergency programs, including for telehealth and distance learning. The NTIA has about $45 billion in grants, mostly to states, and the USDA has ongoing broadband grant programs for connected agriculture. ■