Telecom Alert: Infrastructure Bill Includes $65 Billion in Broadband Funding; RDOF Funding Ready for Authorization; Emergency Connectivity Fund Webinar; STIR/SHAKEN Report and Order; EBB Enrollment [Vol. XVIII, Issue 31]
Infrastructure Bill Includes $65 Billion in Broadband Funding
Last week, the White House announced bipartisan support for a $550 billion infrastructure bill that includes $65 billion to support broadband deployment. $40 billion of the funding would be distributed to states by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to provide sub-grants for the provision of internet service in unserved and underserved areas. The infrastructure bill would also adopt the Digital Equity Act, would address digital redlining, and would make the Emergency Broadband Benefit permanent. Please see our recent blog post on this issue.
RDOF Funding Ready for Authorization
The FCC announced that it is ready to authorize over $311 million in broadband funding to 48 winning bidders through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (“RDOF”) (Vol. XVII, Issue 50). The RDOF Phase I Auction, which concluded in December 2020, initially granted 180 winning bidders a total of $9.23 billion in funding. The 48 winning bidders must submit acceptable irrevocable standby letters of credit and Bankruptcy Code opinion letters by 6:00 p.m. EST on August 9. The Commission also announced a list of winning bidders that defaulted on their bids and are subject to forfeitures. The FCC is continuing to evaluate the long-form applications of other winning bidders.
Emergency Connectivity Fund Webinar
The FCC issued a Public Notice last week announcing that it will host an informational webinar on the Emergency Connectivity Fund (Vol. XVIII, Issue 27) Program at 2:00 p.m. EST on August 3. The Fund will allow schools and libraries to apply for support to purchase laptops, tablets, WiFi hotspots, and other equipment needed to provide internet service. The webinar will highlight frequently asked questions about the Program and application process, and participants will be able to submit any additional questions they may have before, during, or after the event. The webinar will be recorded and available on the FCC’s website.
STIR/SHAKEN Report and Order
The FCC will vote on a Third Report and Order at its Open Meeting on August 5 that would establish a process to review decisions of the STIR/SHAKEN Governance Authority. The Governance Authority, a private entity comprised of representatives from the voice service industry that oversees the STIR/SHAKEN framework, may revoke the ability of a non-compliant voice service provider to participate in the STIR/SHAKEN program. Currently, the FCC does not have authority to review Governance Authority decisions. The Third Report and Order would allow voice service providers aggrieved by a Governance Authority revocation decision to file a request for review to the FCC and permit third parties to file oppositions and replies.
EBB Enrollment Over 4 Million
Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced last week that over four million households have enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit (“EBB”) Program (Vol. XVIII, Issue 20). There has been about $196 million of the $3.2 million in available funding claimed so far, with over 1,100 broadband providers agreeing to take part in the Program. The EBB Program will continue until the $3.2 billion runs out or six months after the Department of Health and Human Services declares an end to the pandemic.