In this final installment of the "Build Back Better with Biden FCC", we look at the broad sweep of other—yet no less important—issues which the Federal Communications Commission must deal with as the deciding actor including:
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) includes provisions that will or could cover the cost of broadband service and devices, broadband infrastructure deployment, broadband mapping and broadband adoption. The rules for use of these funds have not yet been distributed by the authority agency:
Setting the Record Straight: Carriers Can Help Veterans and Comply with California’s Net Neutrality Law
Veterans across the country and in California shouldn’t have to worry they’ll go over their data caps by talking to their doctor or mental health provider online. In fact, no American or Californian should. But California’s net neutrality law is not the problem here. There are easy solutions that broadband providers could embrace that are far more effective at helping veterans and all Californians, while also complying with California’s net neutrality protections.
Despite years of effort and tens of billions of dollars in subsidies, the United States still faces a stubborn rural-urban broadband gap. A large, one-time injection of federal capital can succeed in bridging the rural broadband divide if it is reasonably targeted and allocated through a reverse-auction program that serves as a transition away from the Federal Communications Commission’s Universal Service Fund. The current FCC program is funded through regressive fees levied on a shrinking base of telecommunications services.
The Federal Communications Commission has a new $7 billion pot for schools to recoup the costs of paying for student and teacher access to broadband at home — and now the agency must figure out how to distribute the money. Here are six critical issues that companies keeping track of the FCC program should watch for:
1. What Devices and Services Will Be Eligible?
2. Will Purchases From 2020 Be Eligible?
3. How Will Procurement Work?
To help schools and libraries provide devices and internet connectivity to students, school staff, and library patrons during the pandemic, Congress established a $7.171 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund as part of the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Now the Federal Communications Commission must craft rules to distribute the new funds to eligible schools and libraries for the purchase of eligible equipment and advanced telecommunications and information services for use by students, school staff, and library patrons at locations other than a school or library.
AT&T Wireless announced it will be suspending its Sponsored Data program nationwide. Under this program, AT&T Wireless exempts AT&T’s video services like DirectTV Now from the data caps of its wireless Internet customers who subscribe to those services. This practice is known as “zero-rating.” All other data on the internet, including from competing video services, counts against users’ caps.
Although President Biden has just signed the American Rescue Plan Act (including $7 billion in E-rate funding) into law, some believe that the March 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act already took care of the connectivity gap.
As a Commissioner during the Trump administration, Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel called out the disarray resulting from the lack of a national spectrum policy. “We are heading into our wireless future with something less than a fully coordinated effort,” she warned. The Biden administration has not repeated the failure to prepare with transition planning.
A proposal to move the decisions about rural investment from Washington policymakers to individual rural Americans. If we change the locus of decisionmaking, the power will shift from lobbying and campaign contributions to service and consumer spending. Such a shift would spur rural investment and would also prevent most rural areas from being locked into one technology or one service provider. The following is an updated legislative or regulatory proposal for a new Section 254.