CNMI's broadband needs, challenges, and next steps brought forward at 2023 Territorial Climate and Infrastructure Workshop
ANNOUNCEMENTS | May 19, 2023
From May 8 to 12, 2023, representatives from the newly created CNMI Broadband Policy and Development Office (BPDO), CNMI Department of Finance- Office of Information Technology (DOF-OIT) and the CNMI Office of Planning and Development (OPD) were at the 2023 Territorial Climate and Infrastructure Workshop in Honolulu, Hawaii to engage with key federal partners and bring forward the CNMI's priorities, challenges, and next steps for broadband. The event and all related travel expenses were federally funded.
In attendance to represent the CNMI's stake in broadband was Special Assistant for Broadband Policy and Development Glen Hunter, DOF-OIT Director of IT Services Frank Celis, DOF-OIT Deputy Chief Information Officer Joe Torres, and OPD Planner Manuel Camacho, who highlighted the need for equity in federal broadband infrastructure funding between states and U.S. Territories.
For example, the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Act provided $42.45 billion in funding to help close the digital divide in the United States. While states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico will each receive a minimum allocation of $100 million through BEAD, the CNMI and other U.S. Territories will each receive a minimum allocation of $25 million. As the CNMI, the Freely Associated States, and other U.S. Territories have some of the lowest broadband adoption rates and the most antiquated broadband infrastructure in the nation, it was critical that this disparity in federal support for broadband infrastructure was brought forward at the workshop.
Throughout the workshop, the group also strengthened the CNMI's relationship with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Federal Communications Commission, and shared information with fellow U.S. Territories for possible future planning and collaboration opportunities.
The visiting delegation included EDA Regional Director Sheba Person-Whitley, EDA Pacific representative Keoki Noji, PBDC Executive Director Esther Kia'aina, and PBDC Program Director Jay Rojas.
BPDO, DOF-OIT, and OPD were part of a CNMI delegation comprised of government agency heads, legislators, and other key leadership figures that attended the workshop and voiced the CNMI's many climate and infrastructure-related needs.