The Infrastructure Bill and Telecom
While you may not think of telecommunications (telecom) as part of the infrastructure, it is being included in Biden’s $2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill. Telecom commonly refers to sending large amounts of information via electronic means. In this case, it specifically refers to broadband internet access.
What’s going on with U.S. broadband now?
High-speed internet access in the U.S. can be tricky business for consumers. We have high costs with little competition. In fact, the internet here often costs more than in other developed nations, and access is often limited by income or location. There are many underserved rural areas that simply don’t have the broadband infrastructure they need to deliver high-speed internet to residents. It’s estimated that over 30 million Americans don’t have high-speed internet access because of the area they live in or because of cost. This was brought further into focus with the pandemic, as many workers had to move to work from their homes and students had to be able to connect to online education systems.
What does the bill do?
Biden’s Infrastructure Bill aims to address these concerns with a plan to invest $100 billion in telecom access. These funds would go to installing the necessary equipment in rural areas to deliver access to broadband. Additionally, the bill sets forth parameters to allow more competition from municipally owned/affiliated broadband providers and co-ops. The idea is to not only expand access but to make the service more affordable.
What does this mean for suppliers?
Procurement in telecommunication has a lot of opportunities, and vendors need to stay on top of this portion of the bill. It’s not just providers like Cox and Spectrum that might benefit. Municipal providers could be strengthened, and cities or counties that will be able to take advantage of the $100 billion to expand their access will need a host of services including planning, engineering, materials suppliers, construction crews, electrical crews, and more.
So, what should your telecom procurement strategy be? If your services can be applied to broadband, it’s time to research that now. Any needed certifications should be started or renewed asap so that you’re ready to hit the ground running once the funds are released to cities. It would also be a good idea to research your area and surrounding areas to see where those dollars might land. If you’re just outside of a rural zone that doesn’t have broadband, chances are that the procurement department will get some of these funds. Consider reaching out to the agent in advance to introduce yourself and your services.
One last step
If you haven’t created an account on an e-bidding platform like DemandStar, you’ll want to do that as well. This will ensure that procurement agents can easily find you, and you can set up your account to send notifications of RFPs that fit your services via email notifications.
Would your services fit the telecom aspect of the Infrastructure Bill? How did you plan on getting a piece of that business?