October 1, 2021

Recent News

General (Including Non-USF Programs)

  • On September 27, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) announced via Public Notice (DA 21-1207) that the application filing window for the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program will open on Friday, October 29, 2021 at 12:00 AM ET and close on Friday, January 14, 2022 at 11:59 PM ET.
 
  • On September 23, the FCC announced via Public Notice (DA 21-1195) that the next meeting of the Task Force for Reviewing the Connectivity and Technology Needs of Precision Agriculture in the United States will be held Thursday, October 14, 2021, beginning at 3:00 p.m. EDT. At this meeting, the Task Force will hear updates from the Working Group leadership and discuss recommendations.
 
  • On September 15, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr released a statement in support of “Subsidizing Universal Broadband Through a Digital Advertising Services Fee: An Alignment of Incentives,” a study authored by Hal J. Singer and Ted Tatos which examines whether large technology companies should start contributing to the USF. On September 14, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, SHLB Coalition, and INCOMPAS released the USForward study, which details how “the FCC can take a smart, sustainable approach to contributions reform.”
 
  • On September 10, the WCB announced via Public Notice (DA 21-1131) the establishment of a Fund Administrator Help Desk for the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program. The Fund Administrator Help Desk will assist the public and interested providers with questions about the Reimbursement Program and the application filing process. Interested parties may contact the Help Desk by email at SCRPFundAdmin@fcc.gov or by calling (202) 418-7540 from 9:00 AM ET to 5:00 PM ET, Monday through Friday.
 
  • On September 8, the WCB issued a Public Notice (DA 21-1122) seeking nominations for a representative for commercial mobile radio service providers to fill a vacant position on the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) Board of Directors. Nominations are due November 8, 2021.
 
  • On September 8, the WCB announced via Public Notice (DA 21-1119) that it will expand eligibility for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to include households that can demonstrate participation in the free and reduced price school lunch program or school breakfast program for the 2021-2022 school year.
 
  • On September 3, the WCB released an Order (DA 21-1107) waiving certain E-Rate, Rural Health Care (RHC), Lifeline, High Cost, Emergency Connectivity Fund, and EBB rules and deadlines to assist participants and providers located in the areas affected by Hurricane Ida.


Lifeline

  • On September 22, the WCB released an Order (DA 21-1191) extending the prior waivers of the Lifeline program rules governing documentation requirements for subscribers residing in rural areas on Tribal lands, reverification, recertification, general de-enrollment, and income documentation through December 31, 2021.


High Cost/Connect America Fund (CAF)

  • On September 15, the WCB, Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force (RBATF) and the Office of Economics and Analytics (OEA) authorized via Public Notice (DA 21-1158) Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (Auction 904) support for 466 winning bids.
 
  • On September 2, the WCB released an Order (DA 21-1097) granting a petition by Redwire Inc. The petition requested an extension of the waiver of the letter of credit requirement for the CAF Phase II auction.
Schools and Libraries (E-Rate)
  • On September 21, WCB issued a Public Notice (DA 21-1182) directing the USAC to review and process Emergency Connectivity Fund Program late-filed applications after the close of the initial application filing window with those filed in the second application filing window in accordance with rules and requirements.


Rural Health Care

  • On September 29, the WCB released a Public Notice (DA 21-1222) announcing approval of a second set of 72 applications, totaling $41 million, in Round 2 of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program. The initial group of applications was announced in August.


Recent Studies

USForward Report
by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, SHLB Coalition, INCOMPAS, and Mattey Consulting

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Universal Service Fund (USF or Fund) is currently financed by collecting a fee from providers of “telecommunications” and “telecommunications services” based on their end user interstate and international revenues. There are increasing concerns about the growth and the disparate impacts of this fee on consumers, business customers, and the communications industry that serves them. This report compiles and analyzes the relevant data using a consistent set of terms and documented sources. The report is intended to facilitate a comparison of different assessment systems that could be implemented by the FCC now to avert the immediate crisis on the horizon.

Subsidizing Universal Broadband Through a Digital Advertising Services Fee: An Alignment of Incentives
by Hal J. Singer and Ted Tatos

This study examines the current funding mechanism for the universal service fund (USF), and estimates the amount of annual funding necessary to provide broadband service to those who currently cannot access it, as well as to those who can access it but cannot afford it.