U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján leading a subcommittee hearing June 9 on the oversight of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Courtesy/BRL
WASHINGTON D.C. — U.S. Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Chair of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband, led a subcommittee hearing June 9 on the oversight of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) with Administrator Alan Davidson.
During the hearing, Senator Luján focused on bridging the digital divide and connecting every New Mexican to high-speed, affordable internet, as well as ensuring that the NTIA works closely with other agencies to accomplish its mission and effectively invest in connectivity for the communities they serve.
Excerpt of Sen. Luján’s opening remarks, as prepared for delivery:
New Mexico families know the difference between fast internet, slow internet, and no internet at all. As a nation, we will no longer tolerate stories of working families unable to access work, of students forced to drive miles just to do their homework in a McDonald’s parking lot, of patients cut off from essential health services.
Congress recognized this, and in a bipartisan manner, we acted to fix it. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act made a $65 billion investment to expand broadband access, affordability, and access. This is the single greatest investment to expand broadband infrastructure we have made as a nation.
Congress chose the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to oversee the majority of these ambitious goals. However, NTIA’s responsibilities range far beyond broadband access.
As the coordinator for the federal government’s use of spectrum, NTIA manages federal participation in a limited and valuable public resource, critical for aviation, defense, and scientific discovery. Effectively managing federal spectrum is essential to ensuring Americans have access to emergency services, telecommunications devices, and – in many cases, – access to broadband at home.
The NTIA must stay focused on closing the digital divide for all Americans. Broadband access relies on both availability and adoption. For some communities, affordability has been – and will remain – the most pressing obstacle for ensuring adoption. For others, ensuring availability through high-quality future-proof fiber is the solution. And for others, deployment of wireless technology capable across challenging terrain must be prioritized. No single solution is going to work for all Americans, and I am glad that Administrator Davidson recognizes that.
This is our chance to get this right, to close the digital divide, and to have a lasting impact on the prosperity, health, and wellbeing of our nation. Without effective administration by NTIA, we will not reach that goal.
Video of the hearing is available HERE.