Emergency Connectivity Fund Now Open

On June 29, the FCC announced that schools and libraries can now begin filing applications for the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund (Vol. XVIII, Issue 25). The fund allows schools and libraries to apply for support to purchase laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connections to serve unmet needs for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons. The application window opened on June 29th and will remain open through August 13th.

Transportation Bill Contains Dig-Once Mandate

Last week the House passed the New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act (“INVEST in America Act”), a $547 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill that includes several dig-once provisions. The provisions in the INVEST in America Act would require federally funded state highway projects to enable broadband providers to register for notice of opportunities to install broadband conduit or infrastructure during highway or lane construction or excavation. It also would require the state department of transportation to install conduit if no provider commits to doing so.

911 Outage Reporting NPRM Pleading Cycle

The Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on proposed rules to change 911 outage reporting was published in the Federal Register last week (Vol. XVIII, Issue 17). The NPRM, which the FCC adopted at its Open Meeting in April, proposes new rules requiring certain providers to report network outages as soon as possible and to maintain accurate contact information for 911 call centers. More information is available on our firm’s blog here. Comments and reply comments are due by July 30, 2021, and August 30, 2021, respectively. 

Regional EBB Program Data

Last week the FCC announced that the Commission will begin releasing more detailed Emergency Broadband Benefit (“EBB”) enrollment data to inform its current awareness efforts and empower its outreach partners with targeted outreach campaigns. Interested parties can now download three-digit zip code EBB enrollment data, and the Program’s dashboard will report the amount of funds disbursed as participating providers’ file claims. Since mid-May, the FCC has enrolled over three million households into the EBB Program. 

House Report Makes FCC Appropriation Recommendations

Last week the House Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee released a fiscal Appropriations Report for the FCC in 2022, which focuses on expanding broadband availability. The Committee recommends allocating $387,950,000 to the FCC, with a cap of $128,621,000 for the administration of spectrum auctions. The Report highlights the Committee’s spending priorities at the FCC, directing the Commission to focus on expanding broadband deployment in rural and economically disadvantaged areas and studying the role municipal-owned networks have in such development. It also directs the Commission to evaluate new or existing programs that could be used to permanently extend telecommunications and information services to students at locations other than schools and libraries.