The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) is urging policymakers to embrace what members call a “holistic” approach to digital infrastructure investments that President Biden wants Congress to take up as part of his American Jobs Plan.
The package includes $200 billion for next-gen wireless as well as the broadband buildout help Biden envisions. ITI members include Corning, Ericsson, Qualcomm, Samsung, SoftBank Group and Verizon Media. The group is weighing in as lawmakers will begin refining Biden’s proposal.
Some of ITI’s recommendations, per a new policy outline:
- Tighten up broadband buildout timelines: The White House proposed connecting all of America within eight years, while ITI suggests making $80 billion available with an expectation that funded projects be completed in three years.
- “Supercharge” American 5G and 6G: ITI says any package should “include significant support” for 5G and even emerging 6G technology. The group says Congress should appropriate $10 billion in support for 5G deployment in rural areas, with funded projects required to be completed within four years. It wants to see another $10 billion for next-gen wireless R&D, including establishing a 6G R&D Center in the U.S., as well as providing funding for 5G Open RAN efforts.
- Expand workforce development: Effective deployment of “significant” digital; infrastructure requires measures to help close the existing workforce shortage in the telecom industry, “especially as the demand rapidly increases for qualified, skilled telecommunications workers, including those with tech related skill sets such as cybersecurity experts and cloud system administrators.” ITI wants to see Congress devote $500 million registered and unregistered programs, including the Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program, as well as support reforms and studies proposed by the Telecommunications Skilled Workforce Act.
ITI supports the Biden Administration’s call for expanding workforce development to underserved communities and focusing training on growing, high-demand sectors such as the STEM fields. Members want to see funds targeting investments to minority serving institutions such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic serving institutions.
- Reduce deployment barriers: Regulatory barriers to digital infrastructure deployment should be reduced as much as possible, and opportunities for potential efficiencies fully realized to achieve rapid connectivity results for Americans. Reforms proposed by the Nationwide Dig Once Act should be included, and further efforts made to accelerate and streamline 5G small cell buildout, resiliency improvements, and access to federal lands and facilities for commercial deployment.
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