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Tag Archives: NATE

NATE Salutes Veterans

In connection with Veterans Day, NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association issued a statement that reads that NATE “salutes all of the brave men and women who faithfully served in uniform for the United States of America.”

The membership organization of contractors said that President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919. NATE quoted Wilson as saying in his proclamation, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.”

According to NATE, a congressional act (52 Stat. 351; 5 U.S. Code, Sec. 87a) approved on May 13, 1938, made the 11th of November in each year a legal holiday, stating it was to be “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.'” Congress amended the act on June 1, 1954, replacing the word Armistice with the word Veterans, and the holiday since has been known as Veterans Day, NATE said.

“Veterans Day is a day set aside to thank all veterans for their dedication and loyal service to our country and to express our gratitude for the sacrifices they have made to keep our country free,” the NATE statement reads.

NATE quoted President Ronald Reagan as saying, “We remember those who were called upon to give all a person can give, and we remember those who were prepared to make that sacrifice if it were demanded of them in the line of duty, though it never was. Most of all, we remember the devotion and gallantry with which all of them ennobled their nation as they became champions of a noble cause.”

Congress Passes $65 Billion Broadband Bill — But Now What?

By Mike Harrington

President Joe Biden

When the House of Representatives passed the Biden administration’s $1 trillion the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021 bill on Nov. 5, wireless infrastructure associations, carriers, contractors and manufacturers returned to focusing on exactly how the $65 billion allocated for broadband funding will be doled out — and when.

A major chunk of the $65 billion — $42.4 billion — will be managed by the Commerce Department. Most of the $42.4 billion will be divided among the states, which will then work with municipalities and internet service providers to improve networks. The funds will be administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) within the Commerce Department. Estimates about when the money begins flowing to the states range from six to 12 months.

At least $14.2 billion of the broadband funding will be directed toward the Affordable Connectivity Program, which will be aimed at reducing the digital divide — the persistent U.S. gap between the broadband haves and have-nots, which became obvious during the pandemic as school, work and healthcare shifted online. The funding is designed to deliver what White House called “reliable, affordable, high-speed internet to every household.” The rest of the funding will be earmarked for the Digital Equity Act ($2.76 billion), Tribal Connectivity Program ($2 billion), support for rural areas ($2 billion), middle-mile connectivity ($ 1 billion) and other programs.

A history of the $65 billion bipartisan broadband legislation follows.

On June 24, President Joe Biden and a bipartisan group of senators, five Democrats and five Republicans, revealed that they reached an agreement to allocate $65 billion toward broadband infrastructure as part of the $1 trillion infrastructure package that had been under negotiation for weeks. The $1 trillion package focused on so-called hard infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, EV charging, public transit and high-speed broadband.

The package stipulated $65 billion for broadband as an “investment ensuring every American has access to reliable high-speed internet,” according to the White House.  Telecom carriers that receive the funding would be required to offer internet plans to consumers, along with easy ways to comparison-shop among providers.

The White House announcement to allocate $65 billion toward broadband infrastructure began to heat up a long-simmering argument among wireless and fiber companies — particularly between the Wireless Internet Service Provider Association (WISPA) and the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA).

On June 28, FBA announced that 172 organizations signed a letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, asking Congress to “increase broadband speeds with future-proof fiber.” The 172 signers include consumer, local, rural and education organizations, as well as competitive ISPs (internet service providers) and trade groups representing wired and wireless builders.

On July 27, after months of talks, negotiations and hammering out details, a bipartisan group of senators struck an agreement on a roughly $1 trillion infrastructure package, including $65 billion for broadband development that includes fiber-optic, mobile and fixed wireless infrastructure. Wireless infrastructure groups were satisfied that the federal spending would help U.S. wireless infrastructure providers bridge the digital divide and win the race to 5G.

Todd Washam, NATE director of government relations and wireless industry network

When the Senate passed the bill on Aug. 12, Todd Washam, director of government relations for NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association, said, “NATE welcomes the bipartisan infrastructure agreement that has been reached between senators and President Biden, which provides an unprecedented $65 billion in funding for broadband deployment. The association is also pleased that the agreement includes provisions for wireless firms to be eligible for deployment funding. This historic investment will help fulfill one of NATE’s priorities, closing the digital divide, while delivering reliable internet and communications services to rural, unserved and underserved communities.”

When the House of Representatives passed the bill on Nov. 6, the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA), WISPA and NATE praised passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021, which the House of Representatives approved on Nov. 5 with a bipartisan vote. The Senate passed the IIJA bill in August.

WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein

On Nov. 6, WIA President and CEO Jonathan Adelstein said, “By approving funding that can include wireless broadband, Congress enabled innovative, cost-effective and geographically appropriate mobile and fixed wireless service to connect consumers more quickly and efficiently. Now we need the administration and states to implement the law consistent with its mandates for technological flexibility and for prioritizing applicants that can deploy faster to unserved areas, which certainly includes wireless providers.”

Meanwhile, also on Nov. 6, NATE’s Washam said, “For nearly 25 years, NATE has advocated that communications infrastructure projects that allow for the rapid flow of information and data are just as important as infrastructure projects providing for the flow of travel and goods. The IIJA provides historic levels of funding for several of NATE’s top legislative priorities, and it will have a significant impact on efforts to close the digital divide in rural, unserved and underserved communities.”

Mike Harrington is a contributing editor.

NATE Unveils Safety & Health Manual Online Resource Library

Todd Schlekeway

Todd Schlekeway, president and CEO of NATE

NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association today unveiled the NATE Safety & Health Manual Online Resource Library, a benefit available to member companies.

The NATE Safety & Health Manual Online Resource Library was designed for the communications infrastructure industry and is intended to serve as a resource for members to use when developing their own company safety programs. The professionally written safety manual contains 56 chapters focused on core subjects that contractor service companies need in order to support a culture of safety and jump-start their internal OSHA and third-party onboarding compliance processes.

The 56 chapters of the NATE Safety & Health Manual Online Resource Library are available to download in a Microsoft Word format and are designed to be customizable for companies to include in their manuals to ensure the safety, growth and development of employees. Revisions and updates will be made to this comprehensive resource as additional procedures and practices are adopted by the association’s membership.

“This comprehensive resource library is one of the most significant member benefits the Association has provided to our membership during my 9 ½ year tenure with NATE,” said

Kathy Stieler, NATE director of safety, health and compliance

Todd Schlekeway, the organization’s president and CEO. “Through the development and launch of this manual, NATE is staying true to our organization’s safety mission and providing tangible value to our member companies.”

Kathy Stieler, NATE’s director of safety, health and compliance, said that in her daily duties, she communicates with many companies that seek help in updating company-specific manuals and in navigating the sometimes onerous third-party safety manual onboarding requirements.

“The library is an excellent tool for enhancing company safety programs,” she said, “and I encourage member companies to maximize use of this resource.”

The NATE Safety & Health Manual Online Resource Library is available and accessible as a free resource to member companies. To access the resource, member companies should visit the following link HERE and enter their member ID code to log in. Once logged in, on the right-hand side click on the plus (+) sign next to “Safety Resource,” then click on the Safety & Health Manual to view each individual chapter.

The NATE Safety & Health Manual Online Resource Library is available for non-member companies and other industry stakeholders to purchase for $1,000. To purchase the manual, visit HERE.

To learn more about NATE, visit www.natehome.com.​

NATE Letter to New OSHA Administrator Addresses Tower Climber Safety

On Oct. 28, NATE executives sent a letter to Douglas Parker, the new Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) administrator concerning the proposed OSHA rulemaking regarding tower climber safety and fall protection.

Parker is OSHA’s first Senate-confirmed leader in nearly five years, after his nomination for assistant labor secretary was approved with a 50-41 vote on Oct. 25. Formerly the head of the California Division of OSHA, Parker takes over from Acting OSHA Administrator Jim Frederick.

The NATE letter follows:

October 28, 2021

The Honorable Douglas Parker

Assistant Secretary

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

200 Constitution Ave., NW

Washington, D.C. 20210

Dear Mr. Parker,

Douglas Parker, OSHA administrator

NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association congratulates you on your confirmation as Assistant Secretary of Labor.

NATE is a non-profit trade association in the wireless infrastructure industry, and is recognized as the tower industry leader in promoting safety, standards and education. We represent more than 1,000 member companies, including hundreds of small business contractors, that construct, service or maintain hundreds of thousands of communications towers and next generation networks throughout the United States and 12 other countries.

Since its creation more than quarter of a century ago, NATE has worked extensively with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) on a variety of issues. We have worked together on safety directives and guidance documents, coordinated official visits to tower facilities and supported Safe + Sound Weeks and the National Safety Stand-Down Campaigns, in addition to extensive meetings and discussions on other workplace safety matters. NATE has also finalized a partnership agreement with OSHA and the Federal Communications Commission that will ensure we are addressing contractors’ concerns will prioritizing the safety of tower technicians.

Recognizing the importance of a positive relationship with OSHA leadership, NATE was scheduled to meet with Acting Assistant Secretary Jim Frederick to discuss our priority issues. However, that meeting was understandably postponed because of the enormous pressure and increased responsibilities within OSHA resulting from President Biden’s vaccination mandate. NATE looks forward to continuing the conversations and engagement with OSHA leadership, and would be honored to facilitate a meeting with you and a small group of NATE’s small business members. We have already had meetings and discussions with Scott Ketcham, the director of the Directorate of Construction, and others within the agency, and have always has positive conversations that advance safety priorities.

A critical issue confronting us is the proposed OSHA rulemaking regarding tower climber safety and fall protection. It is imperative to note that NATE representatives worked with other subject matter experts to develop comprehensive industry consensus standards (ANSI/ASSE A10.48 and TIA 322), which established minimum criteria for safe work practices and training for personnel performing work on communications structures. NATE has urged OSHA to embrace and implement these standards in lieu of developing new regulations on tower climber safety and fall protection. These industry consensus standards, which are in place and are being utilized right now, will save significant time and money.

Furthermore, they provide timely guidelines to help prevent injuries and fatalities instead of waiting for the development and advancement of a federal rule.

The National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995 provides precedence for this approach. This law (P.L 104-113) directs federal agencies to use technical standards “that are developed or adopted by voluntary consensus standards bodies, using such technical standards as a means to carry out policy objectives or activities determined by the agencies or departments,” except where inconsistent with applicable law or impractical.

Accordingly, it would be counterproductive, unsafe and unwise for OSHA to proceed with rulemaking on tower climber safety, which we understand is in the proposed rule stage.

In addition to discussing this with various OSHA officials, including your predecessors and staff in the Directorate of Construction as well as other directorates, NATE held several meetings with the Small Business Administration, including the Office of Ombudsman. Furthermore, NATE members participated in the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) panel a few years ago, reaffirming the Association’s stance on this issue. We also participated in tower climber safety workshops and provided detailed comments on OSHA’s RFI on communication tower safety.

NATE encourages OSHA to take into account these industry standards and our members’ commitment to worker safety should the agency continue to move forward with rules that would impact tower technicians. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues within the Department of Labor to ensure NATE’s small business contractors are represented and their concerns with regulatory issues are addressed.

Thank you for your public service and congratulations on your confirmation.

Todd Schlekeway, NATE President & CEO

Jim Goldwater, NATE Legislative Affairs

Todd Washam, NATE Government Relations

NATE Requests Public Comment Period for Federal Vaccine Mandate

A membership organization of communications infrastructure contractors has sent a letter to President Joe Biden requesting a public comment period on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed vaccine mandate.

NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association sent the letter to the president, who announced new COVID-19 vaccine mandates on Sept. 9 with the goal of ensuring 100 million unvaccinated Americans become vaccinated.

“The order requires employers with more than 100 employees to either mandate their employees be vaccinated or conduct weekly testing of unvaccinated employees,” a statement from NATE reads. “The president also ordered that all federal contractors working on federal property be vaccinated, with no option for testing.”

Todd Washam, NATE director of government relations and Wireless Industry Network.

Under the temporary emergency standard, NATE said, OSHA will be allowed to enact a rule immediately if “workers are in grave danger due to exposure to toxic substances or agents determined to be toxic or physically harmful or to new hazards.” According to NATE, because of the emergency procedures under which the rule is being drafted, OSHA has stated that there will be no public comment period for the proposed rule.

“NATE surveyed our members to determine how contractors believe vaccine mandates would impact their respective small businesses, and it is clear that the association’s members have serious concerns about this pending rule,” said Todd Washam, NATE director of government relations and Wireless Industry Network. “We urge President Biden and OSHA to open a public comment period so the administration can hear directly from NATE’s small business members and gain a better understanding of how vaccine mandates would impact their workforce and the country’s ambitious 5G and broadband deployment goals.”