Telecom Alert:FCC Auction Authority Expires; $66M in Affordable Broadband Outreach Grants; 3.45 GHz Band Clearinghouse RFP; CPF Grants [Vol. XX, Issue 11]
FCC Auction Authority Expires
The FCC’s legal authority to conduct auctions expired Thursday after the Senate failed to pass legislation that would have extended the Commission’s auction powers temporarily (Vol. XIX, Issue 14). Legislation that sought unanimous consent was introduced in the Senate to extend the authority until September 30, but it ultimately failed after Sen. Peter Welch (D-VT) objected. The House had previously passed a bill at the end of February that would have extended the Commission’s authority until May 19. It is expected that Congress will ultimately reinstate the FCC’s auction authority at some point later this year.
$66 Million in Affordable Broadband Outreach Grants
Last week, the FCC announced $66 million in target funding through the Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program (the “Program”) to drive awareness and enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program (“ACP”). The Commission is providing financial support to 197 partner organizations nationwide to promote the ACP. Funds from the Program will be used to conduct digital campaigns, operate phone banks, and host application enrollment and other outreach events.
3.45 GHz Band Clearinghouse RFP
The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau received a Request for Proposal last week containing the selection criteria and filing instructions for entities that wish to act as the neutral, independent Reimbursement Clearinghouse (“Clearinghouse”) in the 3.45 GHz band transition (Vol. XIX, Issue 46). The Clearinghouse is responsible for managing the collection and distribution of relocation reimbursement payments from new licensees and will be compensated for the duties it performs. Interested entities have until April 3, 2023, to file proposals.
Last week, the Department of the Treasury announced the award of approximately $185.5 million in funding for South Carolina for broadband projects through the Capital Projects Fund (the “Fund”) (Vol. XX, Issue 9). The Fund provides $10 billion to states, territories, and Tribal governments to fund critical capital projects that enable work, education, and health monitoring. South Carolina’s grant program is a competitive last-mile broadband grant program designed to provide 100/100 Mbps broadband service to rural areas currently lacking service. To date, the Fund has awarded over $5 billion to states.
Thomas Magee, Tracy Marshall, Kathleen Slattery Thompson, Sean Stokes, and Wesley Wright also contributed to this article.