Groups Applaud Senate Passage of Infrastructure Act, NENA Questions Lack of 9-1-1 Funding
Tuesday, August 10, 2021 | Comments

The U.S. Senate approved a $1 trillion infrastructure package that includes funding for improving broadband and cybersecurity among many other provisions.

Industry groups applauded the Senate’s passage of the bill and touted what it could mean to broadband development within the country.

“WIA applauds the passage of the infrastructure bill because it reflects the bipartisan all-of-the-above funding strategy that allows wireless to compete, which will get broadband to unserved communities more quickly,” said Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) President Jonathan Adelstein. “By recognizing the role wireless plays in prioritizing mobility, speed of deployment, resiliency and public safety, this measure will help bridge the digital divide and put the U.S. on the path to win the race to 5G.”

NTCA — the Rural Broadband Association also thanked the Senate for passing a bill that includes $65 billion in total funding for broadband.

“On behalf of NTCA’s community-based members who are committed to delivering the best possible broadband in rural America, I applaud the Senate for recognizing the importance of broadband connectivity in passing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” said Bloomfield. “For too long, broadband was seen as ‘nice to have,’ but if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that robust, reliable, and affordable connectivity is a necessity. This funding presents an opportunity to make great strides toward on connecting all Americans and, if implemented wisely, could go a long way toward bridging the digital divide for a generation or longer. We look forward to continuing to work with Congress and the White House as this bill moves forward to ensure that all Americans, regardless of where they live, will have access to affordable internet service that meets their needs today and tomorrow.” 

The National Emergency Number Association (NENA) also touted the benefits of the broadband funding but questioned why funding for next-generation 9-1-1 funding was not included in the package.

“The Senate-approved infrastructure package includes essential funding for ‘middle mile’ internet infrastructure to help connect broadband providers to local networks and community institutions in underserved areas,” said Dan Henry, regulatory counsel and director of government affairs for NENA. “Additional funding for these critical connections will benefit 9-1-1 operations in rural areas and help lay the groundwork for broader adoption of next generation 9-1-1. However, America's aging 9-1-1 infrastructure itself is also in dire need of an upgrade. Billions in federal funds are still urgently needed to accelerate the deployment of NG 9-1-1 across the United States. We will continue to work with Congress and all stakeholders to secure this critical funding through a legislative vehicle like the LIFT America Act. This funding will serve as the essential catalyst for the transition to an information-rich 9-1-1 system to better protect all Americans in need of emergency assistance.”

The LIFT America Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this year. Among other provisions, that bill proposed providing $15 billion in funding for NG 9-1-1 but has not moved forward.

The infrastructure bill is now awaiting approval from the House of Representatives. It is not clear yet when the house will vote on the bill.

“I want to thank the Senate for passing the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will help deliver much needed relief to communities across our country,” said Security of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. “Among the many provisions with key DHS equities, this infrastructure bill includes additional funding for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) mitigation grants. This funding will help build stronger communities, ensure they are better prepared for future disasters, and allow for adaptation and resilience investments to address the effects of climate change. The bill also includes additional funding for cybersecurity and provides DHS with the resources needed to support response and recovery efforts for public and private entities impacted by cyberattacks. Further, the bill includes additional resources vital to modernizing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and United States Coast Guard (USCG) facilities. The passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a key step toward protecting the American people, and the services and infrastructure on which we rely.”

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