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Several broadband industry associations have voiced support for the Build America, Buy America (BABA) waiver issued by NTIA on Friday. Among them were the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA), the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) and USTelecom.

Build America, Buy America rules will play an important role in the $42.5 billion BEAD rural broadband funding program. The rules aim to ensure that as much of that money as possible goes to U.S manufacturers for equipment and materials used in the deployments.

The waiver makes certain exceptions to those rules. For example, NTIA determined that nearly all semiconductors used in broadband equipment are manufactured overseas, and U.S. semiconductor manufacturing is not expected to gear up in time to supply providers undertaking BEAD deployments.

As Will Arbuckle, senior policy advisor for NTIA, noted in a blog post, “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.”

In a prepared statement, USTelecom President and CEO Jonathan Spalter said “NTIA’s approach on Build America, Buy America is a smart move, balancing the need for providers to purchase the network components required for BEAD deployments on time while American manufacturing ramps up. We must keep moving forward with both goals – achieving universal connectivity and accelerating American manufacturing – on parallel tracks.”

Said TIA CEO Dave Stehlin in a prepared statement: “The release of this final limited waiver provides clarity to companies investing in U.S. manufacturing and it ensures that we are one step closer to our goal of deploying broadband to all Americans.”

Unsurprisingly, a prepared statement from FBA President and CEO Gary Bolton said the BEAD program has the potential to bring fiber connectivity to the vast majority of currently unserved Americans.

“The waiver will enhance domestic production of the products needed for that infrastructure allowing funding recipients to continue to provide economic opportunity, including job creation, through innovation and timely deployment of broadband infrastructure,” said Bolton.

Also on Friday, another manufacturer obtained BABA approval. The company – OFS – offers fiber optic cabling, which is manufactured in Georgia.

OFS joins a growing number of manufacturers that have obtained BABA approval, including manufacturers of fiber optic equipment such as optical network terminals, as well as fiber cabling manufacturers.

The full text of the Build America Buy America waiver is available at this link.

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