The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) established two new offices to handle all its upcoming, additional broadband workload.
It established the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth (OICG) to fulfill the requirements of the Access Broadband Act, which was enacted into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. The OICG will be led by Douglas Kinkoph, who has served as the head of NTIA’s broadband program since 2015. The OICG will house all broadband activities at NTIA, including three active broadband grant programs: the Broadband Infrastructure Program, the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program and the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program.
The office will also house BroadbandUSA, which provides community outreach, support for state leaders, technical assistance and coordination for federal broadband resources and programs.
NTIA’s new Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives (OMBI) fulfills requirements of the Connecting Minority Communities provisions enacted into law as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. The office will continue NTIA’s efforts to collaborate with federal agencies; state, local and tribal governments; historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities and minority-serving institutions; to promote initiatives related to expanding connectivity and digital opportunities.
“With this new organizational structure, we are prepared to make significant progress in closing the digital divide through our broadband programs, bringing us closer to President Biden’s goal of connecting all Americans to reliable, affordable high-speed internet,” said Acting NTIA Administrator Evelyn Remaley, in a statement.
The Biden administration has put a focus on closing the digital divide, resulting in myriad broadband legislation and creating multiple programs for NTIA to administer.
Earlier this week, NTIA said that competition for grants from one of its programs — the Broadband Infrastructure Program (BIP) — is already fierce. It said more than 230 funding requests were submitted during the 90-day application window. All told, they sought more than $2.5 billion for projects covering 49 U.S. states and territories, far exceeding the available grant funding.