Telecom Alert: Enhanced Competition Incentive Program FNPRM; RDOF Fourth Round Funding; Emergency Connectivity Fund Commitment; FCC Filing Fees [Vol. XVIII, Issue 46]
Enhanced Competition Incentive Program FNPRM
The FCC will consider a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at its Open Meeting on November 18 that seeks to establish the Enhanced Competition Incentive Program (“ECIP”) to promote diversity of spectrum access and availability of rural service. The ECIP would encourage licensees to partition, disaggregate, or lease spectrum to small carriers and Tribal Nations to provide wireless service throughout the country, and to entities to provide wireless service in rural areas. The incentives to do so include extending license terms by five years, extending construction periods by one year, and creating alternate rural-focused construction requirements.
RDOF Fourth Round Funding
The FCC issued a Public Notice last week announcing the authorization of more than $700 million in the fourth round of funding through the Rural Digital Opportunity fund (“RDOF”) (Vol. XVIII, Issue 43). The funding was awarded to 50 broadband providers that will serve over 400,000 locations in 26 states. Combined with the three prior funding waves, the Commission has authorized over $1.7 billion of the $9.2 billion in winning bids announced last December.
$421 Million in Emergency Connectivity Fund Committed
The FCC announced it is committing more than $421 million in the latest round of the Emergency Connectivity Fund (Vol. XVIII, Issue 44). The funding can be used to support off-campus learning, such as nightly homework and virtual learning. To date, the Fund has committed over $3.05 billion to support 6,954 schools, 613 libraries, and 80 consortia in all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. With these additional commitments, the Commission has met its goal of responding to 70 percent of all applications within 100 days of the closing of the first filing window.
FCC Filing Fees
In April of this year, the FCC announced the new filing fees that were published in March 2021 in its Application Fee Report and Order were not yet in effect, and several of the changes still have not been authorized. The new rules will not take effect until the requisite notice has been provided to Congress, the FCC’s information technology systems and internal procedures have been updated, and the Commission publishes notices in the Federal Register announcing the effective date. The new fee rates for systems involving the Office of Engineering and Technology and Media Bureau went into effect on July 15, 2021.
Co-authored by Timothy A. Doughty, Michael T. N. Fitch, C. Douglas Jarrett, Thomas B. Magee, Tracy P. Marshall, Kathleen Slattery Thompson, Sean A. Stokes.