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An American-Made Internet for All

February 23, 2024

By: Will Arbuckle, Senior Policy Advisor, NTIA

President Biden and Vice President Harris made a historic commitment to connect everyone in America to affordable, reliable high-speed Internet service while creating good-paying jobs and boosting American manufacturing.

Under the Administration’s Internet for All initiative, a core piece of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda, made-in-America requirements and historic funding for high-speed Internet infrastructure have already spurred significant progress towards that goal. 

Heeding President Biden’s call, numerous companies are now onshoring and expanding domestic manufacturing and creating thousands of good-paying jobs in communities across the country.

Furthering the goals of the President’s agenda to expand access to high-speed Internet service across America, today, NTIA released a Build America, Buy America (BABA) waiver for the $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program. The waiver and an FAQ are available on the Department of Commerce Office of Acquisition Management site. This BABA waiver takes the strongest approach possible to protecting American jobs while also ensuring that we can quickly build the Internet networks.

When we released the proposed BABA waiver in August, we estimated that our approach would mean close to 90% of BEAD funds spent on equipment would be spent on equipment manufactured in the U.S. Under the waiver released today, that estimate holds steady. 

The majority of fiber broadband equipment—including optical fiber, fiber optic cable, key electronics, and enclosures—necessary to bring affordable and reliable high-speed Internet service to everyone in America will be made here in the United States.

At first, many in industry told us that requiring the Buy America domestic manufacturing preference for the BEAD Program couldn’t be done—and that a blanket waiver would be necessary. We worked closely with stakeholders to develop this guidance and we’re pleased to see that manufacturers have stepped up and proved this narrative wrong. 

BABA Map updated

Taken together, these investments represent hundreds of millions of dollars of new investments in American manufacturing, jobs, and local communities – with real impacts for Americans. In Tennessee, an entire factory workforce has been retrained to manufacture state of the art fiber optic cable. In Alabama, I met a worker whose job making broadband electronics gives him the stability to provide for his six children. 

The waiver we’re releasing today takes into account comments received during the 30-day public comment period for the proposed draft waiver and provides specificity and certainty on how the Buy America preference applies to optical fiber, fiber optic cable, electronics, enclosures, and other products that will be used to build broadband networks.  

We’re also releasing this waiver following over a year of careful research and deliberate engagement with stakeholders across the country. We held more than 385 meetings with over 50 firms and 250 individuals—representing a diverse range of manufacturers, Internet service providers, trade associations, and unions among others—who are potentially impacted by the BABA waiver.

We’re doing this because the stakes are high. At more than $42 billion, it is the single-largest investment to expand high-speed Internet access in American history. These are American tax dollars—and we strongly believe they should be spent on equipment made by American workers in American communities.  

These policies are a bet on the American worker—a bet that President Biden often says he’d make any time. And they give this Administration confidence that its approach to domestic job creation is the right one. 

We will continue to release essential information on Buy America policies for Internet for All as necessary. For example, we expect to release the self-certification list guidance as well as measurement and reporting requirements soon. We encourage manufacturers and other stakeholders to contact us.