Coverage of how Internet service is deployed, used and regulated.
Lifeline Needs A Lifeline
In less than three months, nearly 800,000 low-income people who receive telephone subsidies through the Universal Service Fund's Lifeline program will be negatively impacted by changes scheduled to go into effect at the Federal Communications Commission on December 1, 2021. The FCC needs to change course and help more Americans keep connected to communications services that are essential to navigate the ongoing public health and economic crisis. Most importantly, the FCC should act swiftly and hit the pause button on the 2016 plan to zero-out support for voice-only services.
Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund Guidance Now Available
The Department of the Treasury released guidance for the Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund program established by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The program allocates $10 billion for eligible governments to carry out critical capital projects that directly enable work, education, and health monitoring, including remote options, in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
How Do We Pay For Universal Service?
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.
USForward: FCC Must Reform USF Contributions Now - An Analysis of the Options
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Universal Service Fund (USF or Fund) has been one of the nation’s most important tools for connecting our nation, including rural communities, low-income families, schools, libraries, and rural health care facilities. However, the funding mechanism that supports the Fund is under significant duress. The “contribution base” – the revenues used to calculate USF contributions – has declined 63% in the last two decades, from $79.9 billion in 2001 to $29.6 billion in 2021.
The Internet and the Pandemic
Results from a new survey of US adults reveal the extent to which people’s use of the internet has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, their views about how helpful technology has been for them and the struggles some have faced. The vast majority of adults (90%) say the internet has been at least important to them personally during the pandemic, the survey finds. The share who say it has been essential – 58% – is up slightly from 53% in April 2020.
NTIA Establishes Two Broadband-Focused Offices
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) established the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth (OICG) and the Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives (OMBI). The changes to NTIA’s organizational structure were adopted on August 13, 2021, in a new Department Organization Order (DOO), which replaced a previous DOO dated September 2012.
NTIA’s Broadband Infrastructure Program Receives Over 230 Applications, More Than $2.5 Billion in Funding Requests
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has received more than 230 applications for the Broadband Infrastructure Program, for a total of more than $2.5 billion in funding requests across 49 states and US territories. NTIA has begun reviewing the applications as part of the $288 million grant program, which was funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. Grants will be awarded to covered partnerships between a state, or political subdivisions of a state, and providers of fixed broadband service.
Senate Passes $1 Trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
The Senate gave overwhelming bipartisan approval to the $1 trillion infrastructure bill to rebuild the nation’s deteriorating roads and bridges and fund new climate resilience and broadband initiatives, delivering a key component of President Biden’s agenda. The legislation would be the largest infusion of federal investment into infrastructure projects in more than a decade, touching nearly every facet of the American economy and fortifying the nation’s response to the warming of the planet. The bill allocates $65 billion for broadband infrastructure in these areas:
Our Challenge to Finally Close the Digital Divide
This is a historic time for broadband investment. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the high costs of being offline. In response, Congress, over the past year, passed two laws—the Consolidated Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan—with an unprecedented amount of funding devoted to promoting digital equity. Communities should be engaged now to help craft long-term connectivity goals and ensure that diverse voices are part of the discussion—and that’s our job.
Lawmakers Reach Historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal
President Joe Biden and the bipartisan group of lawmakers announced agreement on the details of a once-in-a-generation investment in US infrastructure, which will be taken up in the Senate for consideration. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal includes a total $550 billion in new federal infrastructure investment.