Telecom Alert:$100L NAL Over USF Filings; E-Rate Tribal Participation NPRM; 988 Outage Reporting NPRM Adopted; CPF Grants [Vol. XX, Issue 5]
$100K NAL Over USF Filings
Last week, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued a Notice of Apparent Liability against Pacific Data Systems (“Pacific”) for failure to timely file quarterly and annual worksheets with the Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”). Under the FCC’s rules, service providers required to contribute to the Universal Service Fund (“USF”) must file FCC Form 499-A annually and Form 499-Q, with certain exceptions, quarterly. Between August 1, 2019, and February 1, 2022, Pacific failed to file thirteen of the required worksheets with USAC. Accordingly, the Enforcement Bureau proposes imposing a forfeiture of $100,000 against Pacific.
E-Rate Tribal Participation NPRM
The FCC will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at its Open Meeting on February 16 seeking comments on ways to improve the E-Rate program to increase access for Tribal applicants. In January 2022, the Commission amended the definition of “library” in the E-Rate program rules to clarify that Tribal libraries are eligible to participate (Vol. XIX, Issue 6). Specifically, the Commission seeks comment on ways to improve the E-Rate application process, such as creating an extended or separate application filing window for Tribal libraries and simplifying cost-allocation rules and procedures. It also seeks input on whether Tribal college libraries that serve a dual role in their communities should be eligible for E-Rate support.
988 Outage Reporting NPRM Adopted
The FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at its Open Meeting on January 26 proposing rules implementing reporting and notice requirements for service outages potentially affecting the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (“988 Lifeline”) (Vol. XX, Issue 2). The Commission would require service providers to report such outages to the FCC, HHS’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (“SAMHSA”), the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the 988 Lifeline administrator. The Commission also seeks comment on whether it should require cable, satellite, wireless, wireline, and interconnected VoIP providers to report outages.
CPF Grants for Four States
Last week, the Department of the Treasury announced the award of approximately $794 million in funding for Alabama, Kentucky, Nevada, and Texas for broadband projects through the Capital Projects Fund (the “Fund”) (Vol. XIX, Issue 50). The Fund provides $10 billion to states, territories, and Tribal governments to fund critical capital projects that enable work, education, and health monitoring. To date, the Fund has awarded nearly $4.5 billion to states invested in high-speed internet infrastructure estimated to reach over 1.2 million homes and businesses.
Casey Lide, Thomas B. Magee, Tracy P. Marshall, Kathleen Slattery Thompson, Sean A. Stokes, and Wesley K. Wright also contributed to this article.