Comptroller Hegar Responds to Call for Greater Transparency from Federal Agencies on Broadband Funding


The Broadband Development Office (BDOcontinues to push forward and work within the framework provided by the federal government to advocate for Texans.
 
Texas Insider Report: AUSTIN, Texas I appreciate the support of Texas communities across the state in advocating for more transparency and clearer communication from our federal partners on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) map and Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) funding allocation process.

My staff and I continue to express similar concerns in our communications with the FCC and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). It is for these reasons that last year we established monthly stakeholder roundtable meetings to hear directly from communities about what they need from my Broadband Development Office (BDO) to be successful.

Based on this feedback, BDO has developed additional tools to equip local entities seeking to engage Texans in the FCC challenge process. Resources on the Comptroller’s website offer answers to frequently asked questions, outreach materials, detailed challenge submission instructions and a one-page guide that includes links to video tutorials on submitting individual challenge types. We are also actively engaged with the FCC on submitting bulk location challenges.

Unfortunately, NTIA did not adequately inform states and communities of important deadlines that could impact BEAD funding allocations. In November, the Biden-Harris administration announced the timeline for BEAD funding allocations, including that NTIA would use the FCC map that will be published in June 2023 as the basis for funding.

In this announcement and in subsequent communications, NTIA did not inform the public that the FCC deadline for location challenges for the June map were due in September 2022, months before the timeline was announced. NTIA informed BDO of this earlier deadline in mid-December, effectively negating the immediate benefit of a bulk location challenge by BDO or Texas communities.

It is unfortunate that NTIA’s failure to communicate these important deadlines has the potential to disadvantage Texas and has effectively shifted the responsibility to BDO and Texas communities to respond with a sense of urgency to a problem that our partners at the federal level created and could resolve.

Texas will continue to urge the NTIA to allow additional time for a thorough and transparent process to improve the FCC map accuracy and adjust BEAD funding allocations to ensure that each state is getting its fair share based on the best data available. Allowing additional time to incorporate a bulk location challenge into the map fabric is a meaningful step that NTIA can take to improve BEAD funding decisions.

Additionally, my office has requested that NTIA phase in the BEAD funding such that the full allocation is not based on the inevitably flawed June map. While I am hopeful that NTIA will respond to the outcry from BDO and Texas Communities, the BDO continues to push forward and work within the framework provided by the federal government to advocate for Texans.

For more information about the Texas Broadband Development Office, go to BroadbandForTexas.com.
 
Comptroller Glenn Hegar by is licensed under
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