Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Implementation, 1122-1126 [2022-00221]

Download as PDF 1122 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 6 / Monday, January 10, 2022 / Notices have not received their own separate rate, the cash deposit rate will be the rate applicable to the China exporter that supplied that non-China exporter. These deposit requirements, when imposed, shall remain in effect until further notice. Notification to Importers This notice also serves as a final reminder to importers of their responsibility under 19 CFR 351.402(f)(2) to file a certificate regarding the reimbursement of antidumping duties prior to liquidation of the relevant entries during this POR. Failure to comply with this requirement could result in Commerce’s presumption that reimbursement of antidumping duties has occurred and the subsequent assessment of double antidumping duties. Administrative Protective Orders This notice also serves as a final reminder to parties subject to administrative protective order (APO) of their responsibility concerning the return or destruction of proprietary information disclosed under APO in accordance with 19 CFR 351.305(a)(3), which continues to govern business proprietary information in this segment of the proceeding. Timely written notification of the return or destruction of APO materials or conversion to judicial protective order is hereby requested. Failure to comply with the regulations and terms of an APO is a sanctionable violation. Notification to Interested Parties We are issuing and publishing these final results of administrative review in accordance with sections 751(a)(1) and 777(i)(1) of the Act and 19 CFR 351.221(b)(5) and 19 CFR 351.213(h)(1). Dated: January 4, 2022. Ryan Majerus, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Negotiations, performing the non-exclusive functions and duties of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance. khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Appendix List of Topics Discussed in the Issues and Decision Memorandum I. Summary II. Background III. Scope of the Order IV. Changes Since the Preliminary Results V. Discussion of the Issues Comment 1: Tainai’s Eligibility for a Separate Rate Comment 2: Application of Adverse Facts Available to Tainai Comment 3: Surrogate Values for Certain Factors of Production Comment 4: Surrogate Value for Bearing Steel VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:16 Jan 07, 2022 Jkt 256001 Comment 5: Romanian Surrogate Financial Ratios Comment 6: Applicability of Surrogate Financial Ratios Comment 7: Deduction of Section 301 Duties Comment 8: Capping Section 301 Duty Payments Comment 9: By-Product Offset Comment 10: Tainai’s Weighted-Average Dumping Margin Comment 11: Exclusion of Precision Components Inc.’s Imports from the Order VI. Recommendation National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration The need for a leasing program, and (2) what should the leasing program consider. Other business will be discussed, if necessary. Although nonemergency issues not contained on the agenda may come before this Council for discussion, those issues may not be the subject of formal action during this meeting. Council action will be restricted to those issues specifically listed in this notice and any issues arising after publication of this notice that require emergency action under section 305(c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, provided the public has been notified of the Council’s intent to take final action to address the emergency. The public also should be aware that the meeting will be recorded. Consistent with 16 U.S.C. 1852, a copy of the recording is available upon request. [RTID 0648–XB705] Special Accommodations [FR Doc. 2022–00217 Filed 1–7–22; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE New England Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of public meeting. AGENCY: The New England Fishery Management Council (Council) is scheduling a joint public meeting of its Scallop Advisory Panel via webinar to consider actions affecting New England fisheries in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Recommendations from this group will be brought to the full Council for formal consideration and action, if appropriate. DATES: This webinar will be held on Wednesday, January 26, 2022, at 9 a.m. Webinar registration URL information: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/ register/5215827395962115339. ADDRESSES: Council address: New England Fishery Management Council, 50 Water Street, Mill 2, Newburyport, MA 01950. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, New England Fishery Management Council; telephone: (978) 465–0492. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Agenda The Advisory Panel will receive an update on the implementation timeline for Framework Adjustment 34 and Amendment 21. They plan to review 2022 scallop workload based on priorities approved by the Council at its December meeting and discuss potential timelines for completing each task. The panel will review a draft scoping document that will be used to assess: (1) PO 00000 Frm 00017 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 This meeting is physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aids should be directed to Thomas A. Nies, Executive Director, at (978) 465–0492, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: January 5, 2022. Tracey L. Thompson, Acting Deputy Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2022–00176 Filed 1–7–22; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Telecommunications and Information Administration [Docket No. 220105–0002] RIN 0660–ZA33 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Implementation National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce. ACTION: Notice, Request for Comment. AGENCY: On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 into law, also known (and referred to subsequently herein) as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), which includes a historic investment of $65 billion to help close the digital divide and ensure that all Americans have access to reliable, affordable, highspeed broadband. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), is responsible for distributing more than $48 billion in SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\10JAN1.SGM 10JAN1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 6 / Monday, January 10, 2022 / Notices BIL broadband funding through several different programs. NTIA has established multiple avenues for the public to offer input to inform program design and implementation. This includes a series of public virtual listening sessions (see ADDRESSES below) as well as the opportunity for stakeholders across the nation to make their views known in response to this Notice and Request for Comment (Notice). NTIA welcomes input from all interested parties. DATES: Submit written comments on or before 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on February 4, 2022. ADDRESSES: All electronic public comments on this action, identified by Regs.gov docket number NTIA–2021– 0002, may be submitted through the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at http:// www.regulations.gov. The docket established for this rulemaking can be found at www.Regulations.gov, NTIA– 2021–0002. Click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. Responders should include a page number on each page of their submissions. Please do not include in your comments information of a confidential nature, such as sensitive personal information or proprietary information. All comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to Regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly accessible. Information obtained as a result of this notice may be used by the federal government for program planning on a non-attribution basis. In addition to inviting written submissions through this Notice, NTIA is hosting a series of public virtual listening sessions. More information about the listening sessions can be found at https://www.ntia.doc.gov/ federal-register-notice/2021/broadbandgrant-programs-public-virtual-listeningsessions. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Please direct questions regarding this Notice to BroadbandForAll@ntia.gov, indicating ‘‘Notice and Request for Comment’’ in the subject line, or if by mail, addressed to National Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: (202) 482–2048. Please direct media inquiries to NTIA’s Office of Public Affairs, press@ntia.gov or (202) 482– 7002. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:16 Jan 07, 2022 Jkt 256001 I. Background With the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Congress has taken a significant step forward in achieving the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of ensuring all Americans have access to affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law sets forth a $65 billion investment into broadband, more than $48 billion of which will be administered by NTIA’s Office of internet Connectivity and Growth. This investment will leverage NTIA’s experience in promoting broadband infrastructure development and digital inclusion efforts through its BroadbandUSA initiative as well as other NTIA grant programs, including the Broadband Infrastructure Program, the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP), and the Connecting Minority Communities (CMC) Pilot Program. Additionally, this investment will enhance other established Federal broadband initiatives offered through the U.S. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This Notice is part of NTIA’s strategy to engage with partners and other stakeholders to help meet the President’s goal to close the digital divide. This is a historic investment, and it requires not only a whole-ofgovernment effort, but a whole-ofcountry effort. This Notice seeks public comment to bolster NTIA’s work and to improve the number and quality of ideas under consideration as the agency develops Notices of Funding Opportunity (NOFOs) for each of the broadband grant programs to be implemented by NTIA pursuant to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. II. Objectives of This Notice This Notice offers an opportunity for all interested parties to provide vital input and recommendations for consideration in the development of broadband programs established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for implementation by NTIA. This Notice seeks comment on several Bipartisan Infrastructure Law grant programs to be administered by NTIA: The Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, the Middle-Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program, and the Digital Equity Planning Grant Program. NTIA intends to release a future request for comment on the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program and Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program. In addition, given the unique nature of the nation- PO 00000 Frm 00018 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 1123 to-nation relationship, NTIA will conduct a Tribal consultation to gather input on questions related to the additional funding appropriated for the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, an NTIA program previously implemented under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. III. Request for Comments NTIA welcomes input on any matter that commenters believe is important to NTIA’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law implementation efforts. Commenters are invited to comment on the full range of issues presented by this Notice, and are encouraged to address any or all of the following questions, or to provide additional information relevant to implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s broadband programs. In particular, we invite commenters who have applied to or had experience with other federal or state broadband funding programs to offer suggestions for how to effectively implement these new funding programs, based on their experiences. When responding to one or more of the questions below, please note in the text of your response the number of the question to which you are responding. As part of their response, commenters are welcome to provide specific actionable proposals, rationales and relevant factual information. NTIA seeks public comment on the following questions: General Questions Bringing Reliable, Affordable, HighSpeed Broadband to All Americans 1. What are the most important steps NTIA can take to ensure that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s broadband programs meet their goals with respect to access, adoption, affordability, digital equity, and digital inclusion? 2. Obtaining stakeholder input is critical to the success of this effort. How best can NTIA ensure that all voices and perspectives are heard and brought to bear on questions relating to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s broadband programs? Are there steps NTIA can and should take beyond those described above? 3. Transparency and public accountability are critical to the success of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s broadband programs. What types of data should NTIA require funding recipients to collect and maintain to facilitate assessment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programs’ impact, evaluate targets, promote accountability, and/or coordinate with other federal E:\FR\FM\10JAN1.SGM 10JAN1 1124 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 6 / Monday, January 10, 2022 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES and state programs? Are there existing data collection processes or templates that could be used as a model? How should this information be reported and analyzed, and what standards, if any, should NTIA, grant recipients, and/or sub-grantees apply in determining whether funds are being used lawfully and effectively? 4. NTIA has an interest in ensuring that the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is implemented in a way that promotes the efficient use of federal funds. How should NTIA and grant recipients verify that funding is used in a way that complements other federal and state broadband programs? Supporting States, Territories, and SubGrantees To Achieve the Goal 5. In implementing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s programs, NTIA will offer technical assistance to states, localities, prospective sub-grantees, and other interested parties. What kinds of technical assistance would be most valuable? How might technical assistance evolve over the duration of the grant program implementation? 6. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law requires states and territories to competitively select subgrantees to deploy broadband, carry out digital equity programs, and accomplish other tasks. How should NTIA assess a particular state or territory’s subgrant award process? What criteria, if any, should NTIA apply to evaluate such processes? What process steps, if any, should NTIA require (e.g., Request for Proposal)? Are there specific types of competitive subgrant processes that should be presumed eligible (e.g., publicly released requests for proposals and reverse auctions)? 7. NTIA views the participation of a variety of provider types as important to achieving the overall goals of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law broadband programs. How can NTIA ensure that all potential subrecipients, including small and medium providers, cooperatives, non-profits, municipalities, electric utilities, and larger for-profit companies alike have meaningful and robust opportunities to partner and compete for funding under the programs? 8. States and regions across the country face a variety of barriers to achieving the goal of universal, affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband and broadband needs, which vary from place to place. These challenges range from economic and financial circumstances to unique geographic conditions, topologies, or other challenges that will impact the likelihood of success of this program. In implementing the Bipartisan VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:16 Jan 07, 2022 Jkt 256001 Infrastructure Law’s broadband programs, how can NTIA best address such circumstances? 9. Several Bipartisan Infrastructure Law broadband programs provide that, absent a waiver, a grant or subgrant recipient must contribute its own funding, or funding obtained from a non-federal source, to ‘‘match’’ funding provided by the BIL program. Under what circumstances, if any, should NTIA agree to waive these matching fund requirements, and what criteria should it assess (in accordance with any criteria established by the statute) when considering waiver requests? Ensuring the Future of America Is Made in America by All of America’s Workers 10. The COVID–19 pandemic has disrupted global supply chains and impacted employment patterns. What is the likely impact of current workforce and supply chain constraints on the speed with which states, service providers, and others achieve the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s networkdeployment objectives? Are the areas unserved or underserved by broadband networks, which will see substantial new deployments under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s broadband provisions, likely to face particularly significant workforce or supply-chain constraints? What steps, if any, should NTIA take to mitigate the impact of workforce or supply-chain limitations? 11. One objective of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is to ensure American workers have access to high quality jobs, especially those who were impacted the most by the pandemic, including women and people of color. What federal policy tools can NTIA apply to help ensure that broadband funding is deployed in a way that maximizes the creation of good paying jobs and that women and people of color have full opportunity to secure those jobs. 12. What steps, if any, should NTIA take to ensure maximum use of American-made network components and that supply shortages are addressed in ways that create high quality jobs for all Americans? What impact, if any, will application of the ‘‘Buy American’’ requirements in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law have on supplychain and workforce challenges and on the speed with which the nation can reach the goal of 100% broadband connectivity? Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program The BEAD Program is a $42.45 billion program for states, territories, the District of Columbia (DC), and Puerto PO 00000 Frm 00019 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Rico (P.R.) (‘‘states and territories’’) to utilize for broadband deployment, mapping, equity and adoption projects. Each state, DC, and P.R. will receive an initial allocation of $100 million—and $100 million will be divided equally among the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. NTIA will distribute the remaining funding based on a formula that considers the number of unserved and high-cost locations in the state, based on the updated broadband availability maps to be published by the FCC. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also provides NTIA with discretion to establish additional eligible uses for the funding. BEAD program funding will be dispersed in three phases. The first phase allows states and territories to access up to $5 million each to support planning efforts, including building capacity in state broadband offices and to fund outreach and coordination activities with local communities and stakeholders. The second phase requires states and territories to submit an initial broadband plan to NTIA. These plans must be informed by collaboration with local and regional entities and will lay out how each respective state and territory will use the BEAD funding and other funds to bring reliable, affordable, high-speed broadband to all residents. Once NTIA approves the initial plan, states and territories will be able to access additional funds from their BEAD allocation. States and territories will be able to access the remaining funds upon review and approval of a final plan by NTIA. Ensuring Publicly Funded Broadband Networks That Sustain and Scale 13. NTIA is committed to ensuring that networks built using taxpayer funds are capable of meeting Americans’ evolving digital needs, including broadband speeds and other essential network features. What guidance or requirements, if any, should NTIA consider with respect to network reliability and availability, cybersecurity, resiliency, latency, or other service quality features and metrics? What criteria should NTIA establish to assess grant recipients’ plans to ensure that service providers maintain and/or exceed thresholds for reliability, quality of service, sustainability, upgradability and other required service characteristics? 14. NTIA is committed to ensuring that networks constructed using taxpayer funds are designed to provide robust and sustainable service at affordable prices over the long term. E:\FR\FM\10JAN1.SGM 10JAN1 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 6 / Monday, January 10, 2022 / Notices khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES What criteria should NTIA require states to consider to ensure that projects will provide sustainable service, will best serve unserved and underserved communities, will provide accessible and affordable broadband in historically disconnected communities, and will benefit from ongoing investment from the network provider over time? 15. In its effort to ensure that BEADfunded networks can scale to meet Americans’ evolving needs, and to ensure the public achieves the greatest benefit from the federal investment, NTIA seeks to understand reasonably foreseeable use cases for America’s broadband infrastructure over the next five, ten, and twenty years. What sort of speeds, throughput, latencies, or other metrics will be required to fully connect all Americans to meaningful use over the next five, ten, and twenty years? How can the BEAD program meet our nation’s broadband network connectivity needs in the future and what other benefits can Americans expect from this program and the networks it will help fund in other industries and across the economy? How can existing infrastructure be leveraged to facilitate and amplify these benefits? What are the best sources of evidence for these questions and for predicted future uses of broadband? Allocation and Use of BEAD Funds To Achieve Universal, Reliable, Affordable, High-Speed Broadband 16. Broadband deployment projects can take months or years to complete. As a result, there are numerous areas where an entity has made commitments to deploy service—using its own funding, government funding, or a combination of the two—but in which service has not yet been deployed. How should NTIA treat prior buildout commitments that are not reflected in the updated FCC maps because the projects themselves are not yet complete? What risks should be mitigated in considering these areas as ‘‘served’’ in the goal to connect all Americans to reliable, affordable, highspeed broadband? 17. Ten percent of total BEAD funding is reserved for distribution based on how many unserved locations within a state or territory are also locations in which the cost to deploy service is higher than the nationwide average. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides that, in calculating the cost of deployment, NTIA should consider factors such as the area’s remoteness, population density, topography, poverty rate, or ‘‘any other factor identified by the Assistant Secretary, in consultation with the [FCC], that contributes to the VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:16 Jan 07, 2022 Jkt 256001 higher cost of deploying broadband service in the area.’’ BIL § 60102(a)(2)(G). What additional factors, if any, should NTIA consider in determining what constitutes a ‘‘highcost area’’? 18. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides that BEAD funding can be used in a variety of specific ways, including the provision of service to unserved and underserved areas, connection of community anchor institutions, data collection, installation of service within multi-family residential buildings, and broadband adoption programs. The law also permits the Assistant Secretary to designate other eligible uses that facilitate the program’s goals. What additional uses, if any, should NTIA deem eligible for BEAD funding? Establishing Strong Partnerships Between State, Local, and Tribal Governments 19. Community engagement is critical to eliminating barriers to broadband access and adoption. NTIA views strong involvement between states and local communities as key to ensuring that the broadband needs of all unserved and underserved locations are accounted for in state plans submitted for funding. What requirements should NTIA establish for states/territories to ensure that local perspectives are critical factors in the design of state plans? 20. When formulating state broadband plans, what state agencies or stakeholder groups should be considered in the development of those plans? 21. How can NTIA ensure that states/ territories consult with Tribal governments about how best to meet Tribal members’ needs when providing funding for broadband service to unserved and underserved locations on Tribal lands within state boundaries? Low-Cost Broadband Service Option and Other Ways To Address Affordability 22. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law requires that BEAD funding recipients offer at least one low-cost broadband option and directs NTIA to determine which subscribers are eligible for that low-cost option. BIL § 60102(h)(5)(A). How should NTIA define the term ‘‘eligible subscriber?’’ In other words, what factors should qualify an individual or household for a low-cost broadband option? 23. Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, states and territories are charged with developing low-cost broadband service options in consultation with NTIA and broadband providers interested in receiving PO 00000 Frm 00020 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 1125 funding within the state. BIL § 60102(h)(5)(B). What factors should NTIA consider in guiding the states in design of these programs to achieve this goal? Should NTIA define a baseline standard for the ‘‘low-cost broadband service option’’ to encourage states/ territories to adopt similar or identical definitions and to reduce the administrative costs associated with requiring providers to offer disparate plans in each state and territory? What are the benefits and risks, if any, of such an approach? 24. Affordability is a key objective of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s broadband programs. What factors should be considered in the deployment of BEAD funds to help drive affordability beyond the low-cost option? Implementation of the Digital Equity Act of 2021 The Digital Equity Act dedicated $2.75 billion to establish three grant programs that promote digital inclusion and equity to ensure that all individuals and communities have the skills, technology, and capacity needed to reap the full benefits of our digital economy. The goal of these programs is to promote the meaningful adoption and use of broadband services across targeted populations, including low-income households, aging populations, incarcerated individuals, veterans, individuals with disabilities, individuals with a language barrier, racial and ethnic minorities, and rural inhabitants. As noted above, given the sequence of programs that NTIA is implementing, NTIA intends to release another request for comment (RFC) in the future to address the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program and Digital Equity Competitive Grant Programs. The questions below are specific to the Digital Equity Planning Grant Program. State Digital Equity Plans 25. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes historic investments in digital inclusion and digital equity, promising to bring all Americans the benefits of connectivity irrespective of age, income, race or ethnicity, sex, gender, disability status, veteran status, or any other characteristic. NTIA seeks to ensure that states use Digital Equity Planning Grants to their best effect. What are the best practices NTIA should require of states in building Digital Equity Plans? What are the most effective digital equity and adoption interventions states should include in their digital equity plans and what evidence of outcomes exists for those solutions? E:\FR\FM\10JAN1.SGM 10JAN1 khammond on DSKJM1Z7X2PROD with NOTICES 1126 Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 6 / Monday, January 10, 2022 / Notices 26. Some states and territories will benefit from technical assistance in preparing Digital Equity Plans. What types of technical assistance, support, data, or programmatic requirements should NTIA provide to states and territories to produce State Digital Equity Plans that fully address gaps in broadband adoption, promote digital skills, advance equitable access to education, healthcare and government services, and build information technology capacity to enable full participation in the economy for covered populations? What steps, if any, should NTIA take to monitor and assess these practices? 27. Equity is also a named goal of the BEAD program described above. How should NTIA ensure that State Digital Equity Plans and the plans created by states and territories for the BEAD program are complementary, sequenced and integrated appropriately to address the goal of universal broadband access and adoption? 28. How should NTIA ensure that State Digital Equity Plans impact and interact with the State’s goals, plans and outcomes related to: (i) Economic and workforce development; (ii) education; (iii) health; (iv) civic and social engagement; (v) climate and critical infrastructure resiliency; and (vi) delivery of other essential services, especially with respect to covered populations mentioned in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law § 60303(2)(C)? 29. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law directs states and territories to include in their digital equity plans ‘‘measurable objectives for documenting and promoting: (i) The availability of, and affordability of access to, fixed and wireless broadband technology; (ii) the online accessibility and inclusivity of public resources and services; (iii) digital literacy; (iv) awareness of, and the use of, measures to secure the online privacy of, and cybersecurity with respect to, an individual; and (v) the availability and affordability of consumer devices and technical support for those devices.’’ What best practices, if any, should states follow in developing such objectives? What steps, if any, should NTIA take to promote or require adoption of these best practices? What additional guidance and oversight about the content of the State Digital Equity Plans should NTIA provide? Digital Equity Coordination Requirements 30. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law requires state and territories to consult with historically marginalized and disadvantaged groups, including VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:16 Jan 07, 2022 Jkt 256001 individuals who live in low-income households, aging individuals, incarcerated individuals (other than individuals who are incarcerated in a Federal correctional facility), veterans, individuals with disabilities, individuals with a language barrier (including individuals who are English learners and have low levels of literacy), individuals who are members of a racial or ethnic minority group, and individuals who primarily reside in a rural area. What steps should NTIA take to ensure that states consult with these groups as well as any other potential beneficiaries of digital inclusion and digital equity programs, when planning, developing, and implementing their State Digital Equity Plans? What steps, if any, should NTIA take to monitor and assess these practices? 31. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also requires states and territories to coordinate with local governments and other political subdivisions in developing State Digital Equity Plans. What steps should states take to fulfill this mandate? How should NTIA assess whether a state has engaged in adequate coordination with its political subdivisions? Implementation of Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure (MMBI) Grant Program This MMBI is a $1 billion program for the construction, improvement, or acquisition of middle-mile infrastructure. The purpose of the grant program is to expand and extend middle-mile infrastructure to reduce the cost of connecting unserved and underserved areas to the internet backbone. Eligible applicants include states, political subdivisions of a State, tribal governments, technology companies, electric utilities, utility cooperatives, public utility districts, telecommunications companies, telecommunications cooperatives, nonprofit foundations, nonprofit corporations, nonprofit institutions, nonprofit associations, regional planning councils, Native entities, or economic development authorities. 32. Middle-mile infrastructure is essential to American connectivity. Lack of affordable middle-mile access can have a substantial impact on the retail prices charged for broadband services. How should the Assistant Secretary ensure that middle-mile investments are appropriately targeted to areas where middle-mile service is non-existent or relatively expensive? To what extent should middle-mile grants be targeted to areas in which middle-mile facilities exist but cannot economically be PO 00000 Frm 00021 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 utilized by providers that do not own them? Should NTIA target middle-mile funds to areas where interconnection and backhaul costs are impacted by a lack of competition or other high-cost factors? 33. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s provisions regarding the Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program set out a range of considerations governing NTIA’s assessment of proposals seeking middlemile funding, including improving affordability, redundancy and resiliency in existing markets, leveraging existing rights-of-way, assets, and infrastructure, and facilitating the development of carrier-neutral interconnection points. See BIL § 60401(e), (b)(2), (d)(2). How should NTIA implement these requirements, and the others listed in the legislation, in prioritizing middlemile grant applications? 34. What requirements, if any, should NTIA impose on federally funded middle-mile projects with respect to the placement of splice points and access to those splice points? Should NTIA impose other requirements regarding the location or locations at which a middlemile grantee must allow interconnection by other providers? 35. How can the Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure program leverage existing middle-mile facilities, access to rights of way, poles, conduit, and other infrastructure and capabilities that are owned, operated, or maintained by traditional and non-traditional providers (public and investor-owned utilities, grid operators, co-ops, academic institutions, cloud service providers, and others) to accelerate the deployment of affordable, accessible, high-speed broadband service to all Americans? What technical assistance or guidance should NTIA provide to encourage applications for this program? Are there examples of successful deployments and/or benefits provided by non-traditional providers to highlight? 36. As network demand grows, capacity needs in the middle mile and network core grow as well. What scalability requirements, if any, should NTIA place on middle-mile grant recipients? Dated: January 5, 2022. Evelyn Remaley Hasch, Acting Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information. [FR Doc. 2022–00221 Filed 1–7–22; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–60–P E:\FR\FM\10JAN1.SGM 10JAN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 87, Number 6 (Monday, January 10, 2022)]
[Notices]
[Pages 1122-1126]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2022-00221]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

[Docket No. 220105-0002]
RIN 0660-ZA33


Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Implementation

AGENCY: National Telecommunications and Information Administration, 
U.S. Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Notice, Request for Comment.

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SUMMARY: On November 15, 2021, President Biden signed the 
Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 into law, also known 
(and referred to subsequently herein) as the Bipartisan Infrastructure 
Law (BIL), which includes a historic investment of $65 billion to help 
close the digital divide and ensure that all Americans have access to 
reliable, affordable, high-speed broadband. The National 
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), is 
responsible for distributing more than $48 billion in

[[Page 1123]]

BIL broadband funding through several different programs. NTIA has 
established multiple avenues for the public to offer input to inform 
program design and implementation. This includes a series of public 
virtual listening sessions (see ADDRESSES below) as well as the 
opportunity for stakeholders across the nation to make their views 
known in response to this Notice and Request for Comment (Notice). NTIA 
welcomes input from all interested parties.

DATES: Submit written comments on or before 5 p.m. Eastern Standard 
Time on February 4, 2022.

ADDRESSES: All electronic public comments on this action, identified by 
Regs.gov docket number NTIA-2021-0002, may be submitted through the 
Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. The docket 
established for this rulemaking can be found at www.Regulations.gov, 
NTIA-2021-0002. Click the ``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required 
fields, and enter or attach your comments. Responders should include a 
page number on each page of their submissions. Please do not include in 
your comments information of a confidential nature, such as sensitive 
personal information or proprietary information. All comments received 
are a part of the public record and will generally be posted to 
Regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying information 
(e.g., name, address) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be 
publicly accessible. Information obtained as a result of this notice 
may be used by the federal government for program planning on a non-
attribution basis.
    In addition to inviting written submissions through this Notice, 
NTIA is hosting a series of public virtual listening sessions. More 
information about the listening sessions can be found at https://www.ntia.doc.gov/federal-register-notice/2021/broadband-grant-programs-public-virtual-listening-sessions.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Please direct questions regarding this 
Notice to [email protected], indicating ``Notice and Request for 
Comment'' in the subject line, or if by mail, addressed to National 
Telecommunications and Information Administration, U.S. Department of 
Commerce, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230; telephone: 
(202) 482-2048. Please direct media inquiries to NTIA's Office of 
Public Affairs, [email protected] or (202) 482-7002.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    With the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Congress has 
taken a significant step forward in achieving the Biden-Harris 
Administration's goal of ensuring all Americans have access to 
affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband. The Bipartisan 
Infrastructure Law sets forth a $65 billion investment into broadband, 
more than $48 billion of which will be administered by NTIA's Office of 
internet Connectivity and Growth.
    This investment will leverage NTIA's experience in promoting 
broadband infrastructure development and digital inclusion efforts 
through its BroadbandUSA initiative as well as other NTIA grant 
programs, including the Broadband Infrastructure Program, the Tribal 
Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP), and the Connecting Minority 
Communities (CMC) Pilot Program. Additionally, this investment will 
enhance other established Federal broadband initiatives offered through 
the U.S. Department of the Treasury, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 
and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
    This Notice is part of NTIA's strategy to engage with partners and 
other stakeholders to help meet the President's goal to close the 
digital divide. This is a historic investment, and it requires not only 
a whole-of-government effort, but a whole-of-country effort. This 
Notice seeks public comment to bolster NTIA's work and to improve the 
number and quality of ideas under consideration as the agency develops 
Notices of Funding Opportunity (NOFOs) for each of the broadband grant 
programs to be implemented by NTIA pursuant to the Bipartisan 
Infrastructure Law.

II. Objectives of This Notice

    This Notice offers an opportunity for all interested parties to 
provide vital input and recommendations for consideration in the 
development of broadband programs established by the Bipartisan 
Infrastructure Law for implementation by NTIA.
    This Notice seeks comment on several Bipartisan Infrastructure Law 
grant programs to be administered by NTIA: The Broadband Equity, Access 
and Deployment (BEAD) program, the Middle-Mile Broadband Infrastructure 
Program, and the Digital Equity Planning Grant Program. NTIA intends to 
release a future request for comment on the State Digital Equity 
Capacity Grant Program and Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program. In 
addition, given the unique nature of the nation-to-nation relationship, 
NTIA will conduct a Tribal consultation to gather input on questions 
related to the additional funding appropriated for the Tribal Broadband 
Connectivity Program, an NTIA program previously implemented under the 
Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.

III. Request for Comments

    NTIA welcomes input on any matter that commenters believe is 
important to NTIA's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law implementation 
efforts. Commenters are invited to comment on the full range of issues 
presented by this Notice, and are encouraged to address any or all of 
the following questions, or to provide additional information relevant 
to implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's broadband 
programs. In particular, we invite commenters who have applied to or 
had experience with other federal or state broadband funding programs 
to offer suggestions for how to effectively implement these new funding 
programs, based on their experiences. When responding to one or more of 
the questions below, please note in the text of your response the 
number of the question to which you are responding. As part of their 
response, commenters are welcome to provide specific actionable 
proposals, rationales and relevant factual information.
    NTIA seeks public comment on the following questions:

General Questions

Bringing Reliable, Affordable, High-Speed Broadband to All Americans
    1. What are the most important steps NTIA can take to ensure that 
the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's broadband programs meet their goals 
with respect to access, adoption, affordability, digital equity, and 
digital inclusion?
    2. Obtaining stakeholder input is critical to the success of this 
effort. How best can NTIA ensure that all voices and perspectives are 
heard and brought to bear on questions relating to the Bipartisan 
Infrastructure Law's broadband programs? Are there steps NTIA can and 
should take beyond those described above?
    3. Transparency and public accountability are critical to the 
success of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's broadband programs. What 
types of data should NTIA require funding recipients to collect and 
maintain to facilitate assessment of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law 
programs' impact, evaluate targets, promote accountability, and/or 
coordinate with other federal

[[Page 1124]]

and state programs? Are there existing data collection processes or 
templates that could be used as a model? How should this information be 
reported and analyzed, and what standards, if any, should NTIA, grant 
recipients, and/or sub-grantees apply in determining whether funds are 
being used lawfully and effectively?
    4. NTIA has an interest in ensuring that the Bipartisan 
Infrastructure Law is implemented in a way that promotes the efficient 
use of federal funds. How should NTIA and grant recipients verify that 
funding is used in a way that complements other federal and state 
broadband programs?
Supporting States, Territories, and Sub-Grantees To Achieve the Goal
    5. In implementing the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's programs, 
NTIA will offer technical assistance to states, localities, prospective 
sub-grantees, and other interested parties. What kinds of technical 
assistance would be most valuable? How might technical assistance 
evolve over the duration of the grant program implementation?
    6. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law requires states and 
territories to competitively select subgrantees to deploy broadband, 
carry out digital equity programs, and accomplish other tasks. How 
should NTIA assess a particular state or territory's subgrant award 
process? What criteria, if any, should NTIA apply to evaluate such 
processes? What process steps, if any, should NTIA require (e.g., 
Request for Proposal)? Are there specific types of competitive subgrant 
processes that should be presumed eligible (e.g., publicly released 
requests for proposals and reverse auctions)?
    7. NTIA views the participation of a variety of provider types as 
important to achieving the overall goals of the Bipartisan 
Infrastructure Law broadband programs. How can NTIA ensure that all 
potential subrecipients, including small and medium providers, 
cooperatives, non-profits, municipalities, electric utilities, and 
larger for-profit companies alike have meaningful and robust 
opportunities to partner and compete for funding under the programs?
    8. States and regions across the country face a variety of barriers 
to achieving the goal of universal, affordable, reliable, high-speed 
broadband and broadband needs, which vary from place to place. These 
challenges range from economic and financial circumstances to unique 
geographic conditions, topologies, or other challenges that will impact 
the likelihood of success of this program. In implementing the 
Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's broadband programs, how can NTIA best 
address such circumstances?
    9. Several Bipartisan Infrastructure Law broadband programs provide 
that, absent a waiver, a grant or subgrant recipient must contribute 
its own funding, or funding obtained from a non-federal source, to 
``match'' funding provided by the BIL program. Under what 
circumstances, if any, should NTIA agree to waive these matching fund 
requirements, and what criteria should it assess (in accordance with 
any criteria established by the statute) when considering waiver 
requests?
Ensuring the Future of America Is Made in America by All of America's 
Workers
    10. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global supply chains and 
impacted employment patterns. What is the likely impact of current 
workforce and supply chain constraints on the speed with which states, 
service providers, and others achieve the Bipartisan Infrastructure 
Law's network-deployment objectives? Are the areas unserved or 
underserved by broadband networks, which will see substantial new 
deployments under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's broadband 
provisions, likely to face particularly significant workforce or 
supply-chain constraints? What steps, if any, should NTIA take to 
mitigate the impact of workforce or supply-chain limitations?
    11. One objective of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is to ensure 
American workers have access to high quality jobs, especially those who 
were impacted the most by the pandemic, including women and people of 
color. What federal policy tools can NTIA apply to help ensure that 
broadband funding is deployed in a way that maximizes the creation of 
good paying jobs and that women and people of color have full 
opportunity to secure those jobs.
    12. What steps, if any, should NTIA take to ensure maximum use of 
American-made network components and that supply shortages are 
addressed in ways that create high quality jobs for all Americans? What 
impact, if any, will application of the ``Buy American'' requirements 
in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law have on supply-chain and workforce 
challenges and on the speed with which the nation can reach the goal of 
100% broadband connectivity?

Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program

    The BEAD Program is a $42.45 billion program for states, 
territories, the District of Columbia (DC), and Puerto Rico (P.R.) 
(``states and territories'') to utilize for broadband deployment, 
mapping, equity and adoption projects. Each state, DC, and P.R. will 
receive an initial allocation of $100 million--and $100 million will be 
divided equally among the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, 
and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. NTIA will 
distribute the remaining funding based on a formula that considers the 
number of unserved and high-cost locations in the state, based on the 
updated broadband availability maps to be published by the FCC. The 
Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also provides NTIA with discretion to 
establish additional eligible uses for the funding.
    BEAD program funding will be dispersed in three phases. The first 
phase allows states and territories to access up to $5 million each to 
support planning efforts, including building capacity in state 
broadband offices and to fund outreach and coordination activities with 
local communities and stakeholders. The second phase requires states 
and territories to submit an initial broadband plan to NTIA. These 
plans must be informed by collaboration with local and regional 
entities and will lay out how each respective state and territory will 
use the BEAD funding and other funds to bring reliable, affordable, 
high-speed broadband to all residents. Once NTIA approves the initial 
plan, states and territories will be able to access additional funds 
from their BEAD allocation. States and territories will be able to 
access the remaining funds upon review and approval of a final plan by 
NTIA.
Ensuring Publicly Funded Broadband Networks That Sustain and Scale
    13. NTIA is committed to ensuring that networks built using 
taxpayer funds are capable of meeting Americans' evolving digital 
needs, including broadband speeds and other essential network features. 
What guidance or requirements, if any, should NTIA consider with 
respect to network reliability and availability, cybersecurity, 
resiliency, latency, or other service quality features and metrics? 
What criteria should NTIA establish to assess grant recipients' plans 
to ensure that service providers maintain and/or exceed thresholds for 
reliability, quality of service, sustainability, upgradability and 
other required service characteristics?
    14. NTIA is committed to ensuring that networks constructed using 
taxpayer funds are designed to provide robust and sustainable service 
at affordable prices over the long term.

[[Page 1125]]

What criteria should NTIA require states to consider to ensure that 
projects will provide sustainable service, will best serve unserved and 
underserved communities, will provide accessible and affordable 
broadband in historically disconnected communities, and will benefit 
from ongoing investment from the network provider over time?
    15. In its effort to ensure that BEAD-funded networks can scale to 
meet Americans' evolving needs, and to ensure the public achieves the 
greatest benefit from the federal investment, NTIA seeks to understand 
reasonably foreseeable use cases for America's broadband infrastructure 
over the next five, ten, and twenty years. What sort of speeds, 
throughput, latencies, or other metrics will be required to fully 
connect all Americans to meaningful use over the next five, ten, and 
twenty years? How can the BEAD program meet our nation's broadband 
network connectivity needs in the future and what other benefits can 
Americans expect from this program and the networks it will help fund 
in other industries and across the economy? How can existing 
infrastructure be leveraged to facilitate and amplify these benefits? 
What are the best sources of evidence for these questions and for 
predicted future uses of broadband?
Allocation and Use of BEAD Funds To Achieve Universal, Reliable, 
Affordable, High-Speed Broadband
    16. Broadband deployment projects can take months or years to 
complete. As a result, there are numerous areas where an entity has 
made commitments to deploy service--using its own funding, government 
funding, or a combination of the two--but in which service has not yet 
been deployed. How should NTIA treat prior buildout commitments that 
are not reflected in the updated FCC maps because the projects 
themselves are not yet complete? What risks should be mitigated in 
considering these areas as ``served'' in the goal to connect all 
Americans to reliable, affordable, high-speed broadband?
    17. Ten percent of total BEAD funding is reserved for distribution 
based on how many unserved locations within a state or territory are 
also locations in which the cost to deploy service is higher than the 
nationwide average. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides that, in 
calculating the cost of deployment, NTIA should consider factors such 
as the area's remoteness, population density, topography, poverty rate, 
or ``any other factor identified by the Assistant Secretary, in 
consultation with the [FCC], that contributes to the higher cost of 
deploying broadband service in the area.'' BIL Sec.  60102(a)(2)(G). 
What additional factors, if any, should NTIA consider in determining 
what constitutes a ``high-cost area''?
    18. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides that BEAD funding 
can be used in a variety of specific ways, including the provision of 
service to unserved and underserved areas, connection of community 
anchor institutions, data collection, installation of service within 
multi-family residential buildings, and broadband adoption programs. 
The law also permits the Assistant Secretary to designate other 
eligible uses that facilitate the program's goals. What additional 
uses, if any, should NTIA deem eligible for BEAD funding?
Establishing Strong Partnerships Between State, Local, and Tribal 
Governments
    19. Community engagement is critical to eliminating barriers to 
broadband access and adoption. NTIA views strong involvement between 
states and local communities as key to ensuring that the broadband 
needs of all unserved and underserved locations are accounted for in 
state plans submitted for funding. What requirements should NTIA 
establish for states/territories to ensure that local perspectives are 
critical factors in the design of state plans?
    20. When formulating state broadband plans, what state agencies or 
stakeholder groups should be considered in the development of those 
plans?
    21. How can NTIA ensure that states/territories consult with Tribal 
governments about how best to meet Tribal members' needs when providing 
funding for broadband service to unserved and underserved locations on 
Tribal lands within state boundaries?
Low-Cost Broadband Service Option and Other Ways To Address 
Affordability
    22. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law requires that BEAD funding 
recipients offer at least one low-cost broadband option and directs 
NTIA to determine which subscribers are eligible for that low-cost 
option. BIL Sec.  60102(h)(5)(A). How should NTIA define the term 
``eligible subscriber?'' In other words, what factors should qualify an 
individual or household for a low-cost broadband option?
    23. Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, states and territories 
are charged with developing low-cost broadband service options in 
consultation with NTIA and broadband providers interested in receiving 
funding within the state. BIL Sec.  60102(h)(5)(B). What factors should 
NTIA consider in guiding the states in design of these programs to 
achieve this goal? Should NTIA define a baseline standard for the 
``low-cost broadband service option'' to encourage states/territories 
to adopt similar or identical definitions and to reduce the 
administrative costs associated with requiring providers to offer 
disparate plans in each state and territory? What are the benefits and 
risks, if any, of such an approach?
    24. Affordability is a key objective of the Bipartisan 
Infrastructure Law's broadband programs. What factors should be 
considered in the deployment of BEAD funds to help drive affordability 
beyond the low-cost option?

Implementation of the Digital Equity Act of 2021

    The Digital Equity Act dedicated $2.75 billion to establish three 
grant programs that promote digital inclusion and equity to ensure that 
all individuals and communities have the skills, technology, and 
capacity needed to reap the full benefits of our digital economy. The 
goal of these programs is to promote the meaningful adoption and use of 
broadband services across targeted populations, including low-income 
households, aging populations, incarcerated individuals, veterans, 
individuals with disabilities, individuals with a language barrier, 
racial and ethnic minorities, and rural inhabitants.
    As noted above, given the sequence of programs that NTIA is 
implementing, NTIA intends to release another request for comment (RFC) 
in the future to address the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant 
Program and Digital Equity Competitive Grant Programs. The questions 
below are specific to the Digital Equity Planning Grant Program.
State Digital Equity Plans
    25. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes historic investments 
in digital inclusion and digital equity, promising to bring all 
Americans the benefits of connectivity irrespective of age, income, 
race or ethnicity, sex, gender, disability status, veteran status, or 
any other characteristic. NTIA seeks to ensure that states use Digital 
Equity Planning Grants to their best effect. What are the best 
practices NTIA should require of states in building Digital Equity 
Plans? What are the most effective digital equity and adoption 
interventions states should include in their digital equity plans and 
what evidence of outcomes exists for those solutions?

[[Page 1126]]

    26. Some states and territories will benefit from technical 
assistance in preparing Digital Equity Plans. What types of technical 
assistance, support, data, or programmatic requirements should NTIA 
provide to states and territories to produce State Digital Equity Plans 
that fully address gaps in broadband adoption, promote digital skills, 
advance equitable access to education, healthcare and government 
services, and build information technology capacity to enable full 
participation in the economy for covered populations? What steps, if 
any, should NTIA take to monitor and assess these practices?
    27. Equity is also a named goal of the BEAD program described 
above. How should NTIA ensure that State Digital Equity Plans and the 
plans created by states and territories for the BEAD program are 
complementary, sequenced and integrated appropriately to address the 
goal of universal broadband access and adoption?
    28. How should NTIA ensure that State Digital Equity Plans impact 
and interact with the State's goals, plans and outcomes related to: (i) 
Economic and workforce development; (ii) education; (iii) health; (iv) 
civic and social engagement; (v) climate and critical infrastructure 
resiliency; and (vi) delivery of other essential services, especially 
with respect to covered populations mentioned in Bipartisan 
Infrastructure Law Sec.  60303(2)(C)?
    29. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law directs states and 
territories to include in their digital equity plans ``measurable 
objectives for documenting and promoting: (i) The availability of, and 
affordability of access to, fixed and wireless broadband technology; 
(ii) the online accessibility and inclusivity of public resources and 
services; (iii) digital literacy; (iv) awareness of, and the use of, 
measures to secure the online privacy of, and cybersecurity with 
respect to, an individual; and (v) the availability and affordability 
of consumer devices and technical support for those devices.'' What 
best practices, if any, should states follow in developing such 
objectives? What steps, if any, should NTIA take to promote or require 
adoption of these best practices? What additional guidance and 
oversight about the content of the State Digital Equity Plans should 
NTIA provide?
Digital Equity Coordination Requirements
    30. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law requires state and 
territories to consult with historically marginalized and disadvantaged 
groups, including individuals who live in low-income households, aging 
individuals, incarcerated individuals (other than individuals who are 
incarcerated in a Federal correctional facility), veterans, individuals 
with disabilities, individuals with a language barrier (including 
individuals who are English learners and have low levels of literacy), 
individuals who are members of a racial or ethnic minority group, and 
individuals who primarily reside in a rural area. What steps should 
NTIA take to ensure that states consult with these groups as well as 
any other potential beneficiaries of digital inclusion and digital 
equity programs, when planning, developing, and implementing their 
State Digital Equity Plans? What steps, if any, should NTIA take to 
monitor and assess these practices?
    31. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also requires states and 
territories to coordinate with local governments and other political 
subdivisions in developing State Digital Equity Plans. What steps 
should states take to fulfill this mandate? How should NTIA assess 
whether a state has engaged in adequate coordination with its political 
subdivisions?

Implementation of Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure (MMBI) Grant 
Program

    This MMBI is a $1 billion program for the construction, 
improvement, or acquisition of middle-mile infrastructure. The purpose 
of the grant program is to expand and extend middle-mile infrastructure 
to reduce the cost of connecting unserved and underserved areas to the 
internet backbone. Eligible applicants include states, political 
subdivisions of a State, tribal governments, technology companies, 
electric utilities, utility cooperatives, public utility districts, 
telecommunications companies, telecommunications cooperatives, 
nonprofit foundations, nonprofit corporations, nonprofit institutions, 
nonprofit associations, regional planning councils, Native entities, or 
economic development authorities.
    32. Middle-mile infrastructure is essential to American 
connectivity. Lack of affordable middle-mile access can have a 
substantial impact on the retail prices charged for broadband services. 
How should the Assistant Secretary ensure that middle-mile investments 
are appropriately targeted to areas where middle-mile service is non-
existent or relatively expensive? To what extent should middle-mile 
grants be targeted to areas in which middle-mile facilities exist but 
cannot economically be utilized by providers that do not own them? 
Should NTIA target middle-mile funds to areas where interconnection and 
backhaul costs are impacted by a lack of competition or other high-cost 
factors?
    33. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law's provisions regarding the 
Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Grant Program set out a range of 
considerations governing NTIA's assessment of proposals seeking middle-
mile funding, including improving affordability, redundancy and 
resiliency in existing markets, leveraging existing rights-of-way, 
assets, and infrastructure, and facilitating the development of 
carrier-neutral interconnection points. See BIL Sec.  60401(e), (b)(2), 
(d)(2). How should NTIA implement these requirements, and the others 
listed in the legislation, in prioritizing middle-mile grant 
applications?
    34. What requirements, if any, should NTIA impose on federally 
funded middle-mile projects with respect to the placement of splice 
points and access to those splice points? Should NTIA impose other 
requirements regarding the location or locations at which a middle-mile 
grantee must allow interconnection by other providers?
    35. How can the Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure program 
leverage existing middle-mile facilities, access to rights of way, 
poles, conduit, and other infrastructure and capabilities that are 
owned, operated, or maintained by traditional and non-traditional 
providers (public and investor-owned utilities, grid operators, co-ops, 
academic institutions, cloud service providers, and others) to 
accelerate the deployment of affordable, accessible, high-speed 
broadband service to all Americans? What technical assistance or 
guidance should NTIA provide to encourage applications for this 
program? Are there examples of successful deployments and/or benefits 
provided by non-traditional providers to highlight?
    36. As network demand grows, capacity needs in the middle mile and 
network core grow as well. What scalability requirements, if any, 
should NTIA place on middle-mile grant recipients?

    Dated: January 5, 2022.
Evelyn Remaley Hasch,
Acting Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information.
[FR Doc. 2022-00221 Filed 1-7-22; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-60-P