Telecom Alert:Build Back Better Act Passes House; 3.45 GHz Auction Concludes Clock Phase; Affordable Connectivity Program; Text-to-988 Report and Order [Vol. XVIII, Issue 47]
Build Back Better Act Passes House
The House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act last Friday, which allocates, among other things, $480 million in grants for NG911 services (Vol. XVIII, Issue 44). The NG911 funding includes $9 million to establish an NG911 Cybersecurity Center within the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) in addition to $1 million to establish a 16-member Public Safety NG911 Advisory Board. Beyond the NG911 funding, the Act also allocates $295 million to NTIA for grants to public-private partnerships aimed at increasing access to broadband in urban communities.
3.45 GHz Band Auction Concludes Clock Phase
Last week, the FCC announced the conclusion of bidding in the first phase of Auction 110 (Vol. XVIII, Issue 41). During this period, bidders won 4,041 of the 4,061 available generic blocks, and gross proceeds reached over $21.8 billion. Winning bidders will now be able to bid for frequency-specific licenses in the assignment phase of the Auction. The Commission will release a public notice soon announcing the date and time when bidding in the assignment phase will begin.
FCC Seeks Comment on Affordable Connectivity Program
Last week, the FCC released a Public Notice seeking comment on the requirements and timeline for implementing the Affordable Connectivity Program. On November 15, President Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which modifies and extends the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (“EBB Program”) to a longer-term broadband affordability program named the Affordable Connectivity Program (“ACP”) (Vol. XVIII, Issue 45). The ACP will become effective on December 31, 2021, and qualified households currently enrolled in the EBB Program will continue to receive the same benefit level they were receiving during a 60-day transition period. Comments and reply comments on the proposed ACP requirements are due by December 8, 2021, and December 28, 2021, respectively.
FCC Approves Text-to-988 Report and Order
The FCC adopted a Second Report and Order at its Open Meeting on November 18 that requires covered text providers to allow Americans to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (the “Lifeline”) by texting 988 (Vol. XVIII, Issue 45). The Commission previously designated 988 as the 3-digit telephone dialing code for the Lifeline. Providers must support text message and calls to 988 by July 16, 2022.
Gregory E. Kunkle, Casey Lide, Thomas B. Magee, Tracy P. Marshall, Kathleen Slattery Thompson, Sean A. Stokes and Wesley K. Wright contributed to this article.