Telecom Alert: USAC to Fully Fund Eligible E-Rate Requests; NG911 Transition NPRM; House Siting and Permitting Bill; NTIA House Oversight Hearing; Tribal Broadband Grants [Vol. XX, Issue 21]
USAC to Fully Fund Eligible E-Rate Requests
Last week, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau released a Public Notice directing the Universal Service Administrative Co. (“USAC”) to fully fund eligible E-Rate category one and category two applications for funding year 2023. Category one services include telecommunications, telecommunications services and Internet access while category two services include internal connections, basic maintenance of internal connections, and managed internal broadband services. The estimated demand for both categories for 2023 is $2.944 billion and the E-Rate funding cap is $4.768 billion, with an additional $440.22 million in unused funds from prior years.
NG911 Transition NPRM
The FCC will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) at its Open Meeting in June that would expedite the transition to Next Generation 9-1-1 (“NG911”). In 2021, the National Association of State 911 Administrators (“NASNA”) filed a petition urging the Commission to take action to resolve uncertainty and disputes between originating service providers and 911 authorities regarding the NG911 transition (Vol. XVII, Issue 52). The NPRM proposes to address NASNA’s concerns by, among other things, requiring originating service providers to cover the costs of transmitting 911 calls to points designated by a 911 authority. This NPRM proposes similar requirements for delivery of 911 calls by wireline, interconnected VoIP, and TRS providers, and would address allocation of costs for transmitting all IP-based 911 calls.
House Subcommittee Markup of Siting and Permitting Bill
Last week, the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee approved an amendment in the nature of a substitute to the Proportional Reviews for Broadband Deployment Act (HR 3291). The revised bill incorporates multiple other communications bills all aimed at reforming and removing perceived barriers to broadband deployment by placing restrictions on state and local government regulation of access to right-of-way, permitting, and franchising, including access to municipally-owned utility poles.
NTIA House Oversight Hearing
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a legislative hearing on May 23 to review the oversight and reauthorization of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”). During the hearing, the Committee will discuss policy matters related to broadband funding and deployment, NTIA’s spectrum strategy, and NG911 transition. It will also review several bills including legislation that would reauthorize NTIA’s authority.
Nearly $5 Million in Tribal Broadband Grants
Last week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) announced it awarded ten grants totaling nearly $5 million through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (the “Program”). These grants will go to ten tribes in Alaska, California, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin to help reduce monthly Internet service costs, purchase devices, and upgrade network equipment. To date, the Program has awarded over $1.77 billion to 157 Tribal entities.