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Hickenlooper, Moran, Tester, Capito Bill Would Make Broadband Supply Chain More Transparent

Feb 18, 2022

NET Act would ensure broadband deployment remains on track by identifying supply chain gaps early

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper, Jerry Moran, Jon Tester, and Shelley Moore Capito introduced the Network Equipment Transparency (NET) Act, a bipartisan bill to increase broadband supply chain transparency in order to ensure an on-time rollout of the broadband programs managed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Broadband infrastructure projects have been affected by supply chain woes in the past. A lack of transparency into the health of the telecommunications supply chain may contribute to future equipment shortages as federal broadband programs prioritize high-speed, reliable, and accessible networks. The bill would identify these supply chain issues earlier so they can be addressed.

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill was a big step toward connecting every house to affordable, high-speed internet,,” said Senator Hickenlooper. “Now we have to make sure broadband projects are completed on time. Rural Americans have waited long enough for quality internet.”

“In this digital age, access to reliable internet can determine the success of farms, businesses and even health care in rural communities,” said Senator Moran. “Adding transparency to the supply chains that support broadband infrastructure projects will help speed up the rollout of programs designed to increase internet activity for rural America.”

“The new bipartisan infrastructure law means West Virginia and states across the country are slated to receive a significant amount of funding that will contribute to providing quality, high-speed broadband, which is welcome news—especially for those living in rural America,” Senator Capito said. “However, in order to effectively connect our communities, it’s critical that our federal agencies work to address any potential problems that would slow or hinder this process of deployment. The NET Act will provide us with another tool to monitor the supply chain so these crucial projects can be executed in a timely manner.”

“High-speed internet is essential to success in the 21st century in business, education, health care and more,” said Senator Tester. “I’m proud to have helped craft the bipartisan infrastructure law which will bring high-speed internet to every corner of Montana to support small businesses and grow rural economies, and it’s critical that we implement this funding swiftly and efficiently. By identifying potential hang-ups and supply chain issues early on, we’ll ensure we get the job done right.”

Full text of the bill is available HERE.

Specifically, the bill would require the FCC’s Annual Broadband Deployment Report to describe to Congress the impact of supply chain disruptions on the deployment of broadband service.

The Senate is also working to reinforce supply chains by passing the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) which would provide an emergency appropriation of $52 billion to boost American semiconductor chip manufacturing and $1.5 billion for Open-Radio Access Network (Open-RAN) technologies.

USICA also contains Hickenlooper’s provision to counter Chinese manufacturers’ dominance of the telecommunications equipment industry. The Telecommunications Supply Chain Diversity Promotion Act would require the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to fund a $20 million research program at the Institute of Telecommunication Sciences in Boulder, Colorado. Semiconductor chips and next-generation communications components are key parts of building resilient broadband networks.

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