Thursday, December 15, 2022
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The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded nine grants as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP). These new grants, totaling more than $40.3 million, bring the total of the program to nearly $1.7 billion awarded to 130 Tribal entities. With funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, these grants will expand high-speed Internet service network deployment and digital skills training to improve access to education, jobs, and healthcare on Tribal lands. Tribes in six states received grants – Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, and Maine. These awards are part of the Biden Administration’s commitment to nation-to-nation engagement and an effort to connect everyone in America, including Native Americans and Alaskan Natives, to affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet service. The projects funded by these awards will directly connect 3,222 unserved Native American households that previously had no connectivity to high-speed Internet as well as businesses and anchor institutions. Additionally, the nine grants will create 85 new jobs.
The Federal Communications Commission has received several petitions and requests from E-Rate stakeholders through the annual E-Rate eligible services list (ESL) proceedings, asking that the FCC permit the use of E-Rate program funds to support advanced or next-generation firewalls and services, as well as other network security services. The FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau seeks comment on these petitions as well as the related funding year 2023 ESL proceeding filings. The Bureau highlights four filings: (1) a petition for waiver filed by Cisco Systems, (2) a petition for declaratory ruling and petition for rulemaking filed by a coalition led by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN); (3) a proposed three-year E-Rate cybersecurity pilot program by Funds for Learning (FFL); and (4) a letter from 20 national educational groups led by The School Superintendents Association (AASA). WC Docket No. 13-184. Comment Date: February 13, 2023. Reply Comment Date: March 30, 2023
The Lifeline program and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) serve a vital role in providing low-income Americans with affordable access to essential communication services. Between November 21 and December 8, 2022, the National Lifeline Association (NaLA) surveyed more than 60,000 customers who use the Lifeline and/or ACP program about who they are and how they use the programs. Survey results indicate that low-income consumers use Lifeline and/or ACP service to connect to family and to access other government programs, healthcare, jobs and online education. Consumers rely on subsidized mobile broadband access to participate equally in all facets of daily life.
With a big push nationwide to get customers enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), most broadband providers seem to have forgotten about the Federal Communications Commission's Lifeline program that can provide a monthly discount of $9.25 off a telephone or broadband bill for qualifying customers. Customers can qualify for both the ACP discount and Lifeline, meaning an ISP can collect a total subsidy of $39.25 for a qualifying customer. Any ISP that is participating in ACP in order to reach low-income households should consider the Lifeline discount as well. Extending a $39.25 discount to households is a significant saving.
Microsoft and Viasat announced a new partnership to help deliver internet access to 10 million people around the globe, including 5 million across Africa. Viasat, a global communications company, is the first satellite partner to work with Microsoft’s Airband Initiative, and together they will deepen Airband’s work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Guatemala, Mexico, and the United States, as well as prioritize expanding the program to Egypt, Senegal and Angola to deliver much-needed internet connection, often for the first time. This first of its kind global partnership for Airband is an important step in reaching the Initiative’s expanded goal of delivering internet access to a quarter of a billion people across the world, including 100 million people on the continent of Africa, by the end of 2025.
Benton (www.benton.org) provides the only free, reliable, and non-partisan daily digest that curates and distributes news related to universal broadband, while connecting communications, democracy, and public interest issues. Posted Monday through Friday, this service provides updates on important industry developments, policy issues, and other related news events. While the summaries are factually accurate, their sometimes informal tone may not always represent the tone of the original articles. Headlines are compiled by Kevin Taglang (headlines AT benton DOT org) and Grace Tepper (grace AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.
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