What's on the agenda for policymakers.
President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to serve in key roles:
Universal service is the principle that all Americans should have access to essential communications services, like phones and broadband. You may not have heard much about it, but a universal service crisis is right around the corner. Due to Federal Communications Commission inaction, nearly 800,000 people could lose phone service on December 1. On that day, changes in the FCC’s Lifeline program, which provides a modest monthly discount for communications services, mean that voice-only services like a home landline telephone and/or a cellphone will no longer be eligible for the discount.
As the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act awaits a vote in the House of Representatives later this month, a debate over the future of the Federal Communications Commission's Universal Service Fund (USF) is already starting. Provisions in the infrastructure bill call for the FCC to quickly complete an evaluation of how the legislation will impact how the FCC's achieves the goal of deploying broadband to all Americans. Congress wants to know how the FCC can be more effective in achieving this goal. One brewing USF issue is how we pay for it.
Senate finishing crafting $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure proposal, including $65 billion for broadband
Senate Democrats and Republicans unveiled a roughly $1 trillion proposal to improve the country’s roads, bridges, pipes, ports and Internet connections, setting in motion a long-awaited debate in the chamber to enact one of President Biden’s economic policy priorities. The roughly 2,700-page piece of legislation, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, includes $65 billion to expand broadband Internet access nationwide and ensure those who do have connectivity can afford their monthly payments.
In the coming days, we will see major progress on a $10+ billion federal investment in digital inclusion. This moment is unprecedented. We've never seen such a large commitment to making broadband service affordable for all. And, as Congress starts to focus on long-term solutions for universal broadband, we're seeing the potential for more digital inclusion investment in the coming months.
The American Jobs Plan is an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to out-compete China. Specifically, President Biden’s plan will:
What constitutes a lifeline in 2021? Is it a phone? A smartphone? A fixed-location broadband connection? Or some combination of all these services?
State of Illinois Announces Illinois Connected Communities Grants to Assist Communities with Expanding Broadband access and use
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) Office of Broadband announced the new Illinois Connected Communities grant program designed to assist local governments, schools, and community organizations with building broadband capacity.