Broadband Bites: Biden signs infrastructure bill with historic broadband investment
Also in today's broadband roundup: UK plans infrastructure assessment; Vodafone and CityFibre take the next step; US Senate schedules Rosenworcel hearing.
- Putting an end to years of Infrastructure Week, President Biden today signed the bipartisan $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, including $65 billion for broadband. Following a ceremony attended by members of Congress, cabinet secretaries, governors, mayors, business leaders and union workers, Biden signed the legislation, calling it "a monumental step forward to 'build back better' as a nation." Kicking off the signing ceremony, Donneta Williams, a union worker who makes optical fiber at a Corning plant in Wilmington, North Carolina, called out the bill's broadband provision for closing the digital divide and for spurring the economy: "This is not just an investment in broadband, but in jobs at Corning where I make fiber," she said. (For more on what's in the bill and how it will be implemented, see US House passes Biden's infrastructure bill with $65B for broadband and Commerce Sec promises Fed oversight on state broadband plans.)
- Speaking of infrastructure, the UK government's National Infrastructure Commission released a list of topics that will be on its next major assessment of the country's infrastructure, to be published in early 2023, including an update on its full-fiber goals. Keeping with the UK's Project Gigabit program, which aims to make 1Gbit/s networks available to at least 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025, the National Infrastructure Commission is looking ahead to adoption with its next report, saying it will "consider barriers that are preventing the adoption of new digital technologies in infrastructure, and what policy and regulatory interventions may be needed." (See BT CEO predicts UK fiber victory but still unsure of final score.)
- CityFibre and Vodafone declared last week that they would deepen their relationship, with Vodafone extending its wholesale partnership with the UK service provider. According to a press release, the deal "increases Vodafone's commitments from 12 to 285 cities, towns and villages" and establishes Vodafone as the UK's largest provider of full fiber. As Paolo Pescatore, a tech, media and telco analyst at PP Foresight, told Light Reading, if this partnership delivers as intended, "then it could be seen that Vodafone is setting the pace when it comes to availability of full fibre in more places." (See Vodafone sets course for UK's largest full-fiber player.)
- Back in the US, with the infrastructure legislation finally signed, the next step on the road toward implementation includes the crucial confirmation of President Biden's nominees for the FCC and NTIA. The US Senate has scheduled the first of those, Jessica Rosenworcel's confirmation hearing for FCC commissioner and chairwoman, for this Wednesday, November 17. (See Biden finally moves on vacant FCC and NTIA posts and Where Biden's FCC pick Gigi Sohn stands on broadband.)
ó Nicole Ferraro, site editor, Broadband World News; senior editor, global broadband coverage, Light Reading. Host of "The Divide" on the Light Reading Podcast
(Home page image via The White House on Flickr.)
Here's where you can find episode links for 'The Divide,' Light Reading's podcast series featuring conversations with broadband providers and policymakers working to close the digital divide.
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