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How wireless broadband found its way into the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act

Dec. 27, 2021
Belden’s Steve Carroll explains what it took for mobile and fixed wireless to be included along with wired broadband.

In a recent post to Belden’s Smart Buildings blog, Steve Carroll, the manufacturer's global account director, service providers and 5G infrastructure, describes the benefits of the recently signed-into-law Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA).

Carroll also recalls the activism that got wireless broadband included in the act, along with wired broadband.

“During the pandemic, stories were reported about schools passing out laptops and tablets to students who couldn’t use them because they didn’t have access to reliable internet service at home,” he says. “In some cases … students drove to parking lots and other outdoor areas where they could access stable WiFi from nearby buildings and participate in virtual learning or finish homework.”

He further explains the original bill that eventually became the IIJA included funds for wired, but not wireless, broadband.

That was until Wireless Infrastructure Association president and former FCC chairman Jonathan Adelstein lobbied Congress to include mobile and fixed wireless in the bill.

Part of Adelstein’s argument was the physical and/or financial impracticality of installing fiber in some rural locations.

“Wireless may be a less expensive way to provide the same level of connectivity—with appropriate download and upload speeds—to areas where wired broadband is difficult or too expensive to roll out,” Carroll writes, paraphrasing Adelstein’s persuasive argument.

“Of the $65 billion dedicated to wired and wireless broadband, $42.45 billion will fund projects independently approved by each state,” Carroll explains. “When projects use state funding, they must provide download speeds of 100 Mbtis/sec and upload speeds of 20 Mbits/sec. Projects that can be completed quickly will receive priority consideration so that strong impacts can be made right away.”

You can read Carroll’s full blog post, titled “Bridging the Digital Divide: The Positive Impacts of the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act,” here.

You can subscribe to Belden’s blogs here.

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