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What’s New in Digital Equity: Senate Confirms Gomez to FCC

Plus, a new module is added to the Broadband Infrastructure Playbook, Virginia is the latest state to release its five-year broadband action plan, and more.

The entrance to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission building in Washington, D.C.
The entrance to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission building in Washington, D.C.
Shutterstock/Mark Van Scyoc
This week in “What’s New in Digital Equity” — our weekly look at government digital equity and broadband news — we have a number of interesting items, which you can jump to with the links below:


The U.S. Senate has confirmed Anna Gomez to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), ending a long partisan split and giving the body a new democratic majority.

Gomez is a veteran of the FCC and other federal agencies related to telecommunications, including the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Gomez has also advised the State Department on communications and cybersecurity issues.

Gomez — who was nominated in May by President Joe Biden — takes one of five commissioner seats on the FCC. This all comes after Biden’s previous nominee — Gigi Sohn — withdrew following a 16-month confirmation battle that fell largely along party lines. The appointment of Gomez to the FCC means there could be progress in telecommunications issues — from the restoration of net neutrality rules to the FCC having greater authority over broadband — could see movement.

A wide range of groups in the broadband and digital equity spaces released statements praising Gomez’s appointment.

NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association’s CEO Shirly Bloomfield released a statement saying, “NTCA congratulates Anna Gomez on her confirmation to serve as FCC Commissioner. From her experience working on telecommunications policy at federal agencies and her time in the private sector, she brings a deep understanding of the challenges providers face in ensuring all Americans receive reliable, affordable and robust broadband service. NTCA and its hundreds of community-based members are eager to work with her in her new role to advance the FCC’s mission of universal service for all Americans.”

Some leadership within major telecom companies also praised the appointment.

Comcast Chief Legal Officer Tom Reid issued a statement saying, “The extensive experience and expertise Anna Gomez will bring to the FCC is of great value during a time of intense industry competition and change. In both the public and private sectors, Ms. Gomez has exhibited great depth on the vital communications issues facing the country. We congratulate her on joining the FCC, and we look forward to working with her and the full complement of commissioners.”

Gomez’s nomination was confirmed with the support of five republican senators as well as key independents and democrat swing votes, with a total vote of 55 to 43. (Zack Quaintance)


This week, the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA), NTCA and Cartesian published the third module in the Broadband Infrastructure Playbook 3.0 series.

This playbook has been a resource from FBA and NTCA since 2022, but the 3.0 edition, published in August 2023, explores the best practices states can implement in Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program funding proposals. This will help ensure this funding is deployed equitably.

The Challenge Process Module released this week offers guidance for states in approaching the challenge process to improve the accuracy of national broadband access data. The FCC’s National Broadband Map — which has garnered a range of reactions — determines which jurisdictions are unserved or underserved and thus eligible for BEAD funding.

The module offers several other ways states and territories can enhance the process. For example, states and territories should not impose burdensome evidentiary requirements on providers. In addition, the challenge process should not consider matters such as customer service practices. The focus should instead remain centered on technical performance. (Julia Edinger)


Virginia is the latest state to share it’s five-year action plan for broadband, which is part of receiving funding through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program under the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

The governor’s office announced a celebration of the plan this week. Virginia is in line to get $1.48 billion of funding that way, and it will be administered through the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The goal in that state — as it is in so many others — is to get every resident there connected to an affordable high-speed Internet program in their homes.

“Broadband is as critical today as electricity was in the last century, and this administration is committed to ensuring that no communities are at risk of being left behind,” said DHCD Director and Chief Broadband Advisor Bryan Horn in a statement.

More information about the plan can be found through the governor’s announcement. (Zack Quaintance)


Officials in Louisville, Ky., have doled out $150,000 in digital inclusion outreach grants, sending $15,000 each to nine local organizations, the mayor’s office announced.

The money comes through the city’s technology department — Metro Technology Services — as part of the Google Fiber project that happened there. The recipients are varied, and the money will go to different uses, all of which share the goal of helping to narrow the city’s digital divide. Projects funded by the grants range from repairing computer labs to hiring part-time trainers to providing affordable connectivity outreach.

“This funding is a one-time grant for each organization, but we hope that it will help create a more robust environment so these organizations will be better prepared to receive the Digital Equity Act funding coming from the federal government in the near future,” Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said in a statement.

More information, and a full list of recipients, can be found via the city’s announcement here. (Zack Quaintance)


The 2023 CyberShare Summit, hosted by several small broadband provider organizations, will take place Oct. 29-31. CyberShare: The Small Broadband Provider ISAC announced that the event will be co-hosted by ACA Connects, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association (NTCA), the Rural Wireless Association (RWA) and WISPA–Broadband Without Boundaries.

This is the first time these organizations that serve small broadband providers have worked together to provide such a forum. The focus will be on cybersecurity and best practices for network operators, as well as cybersecurity requirements of the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. The summit, like CyberShare, will be administered by NTCA. It is open to any small broadband provider.

“Protecting networks and customers’ personal information from cyberattacks is one of the top priorities of small broadband providers, and it is critical they have the knowledge necessary to analyze and mitigate threats,” said NTCA General Counsel and Vice President of Policy Jill Canfield in the announcement. (Julia Edinger)


Comcast will be awarding $110,000 to three nonprofit organizations in Massachusetts to help advance digital literacy. The grants, which are part of Project UP, aim to connect people to the Internet and advance economic mobility.

Through Project UP, Comcast’s $1 billion pledge to advance digital equity, the company has also invested funding for expanding digital literacy in other locations such as Indiana and Mississippi. In 2022, Comcast invested over $500,000 to nonprofits in the greater Boston region.

The grants awarded this week will support the Urban League of Greater Springfield, the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Holyoke, and the Western Massachusetts Alliance for Digital Equity. (Julia Edinger)
Associate editor for Government Technology magazine.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for <i>Government Technology</i>. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.