October 29, 2021

Recent News

General (Including Non-USF Programs)

 
  • On October 6, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) announced via Public Notice (DA 21-1251) that the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program rules containing new information collections approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have become effective.  The application filing window for the Program opened on Friday, October 29, 2021 at 12:00 AM ET and will close on Friday, January 14, 2022 at 11:59 PM ET.
 
  • On October 28, the WCB granted Cincinnati Bell's request to clarify the extent to which certain CPE produced or provided by Huawei and ZTE is considered covered communications equipment under the Reimbursement Program.


High Cost/Connect America Fund (CAF)

  • On October 7, the WCB, Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force (RBATF), and the Office of Economics and Analytics (OEA) announced via Public Notice (DA 21-1256) that a number of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) long-form applicants have notified the FCC that they do not intend to pursue RDOF support for some or all of their winning bids. A preliminary list of the identified areas where letter recipients indicated they will no longer pursue funding is available on the RDOF (Auction 904) website.
 
  • On October 7, the WCB, RBATF, and OEA announced via Public Notice (DA 21-1255) that they are ready to authorize RDOF support for the winning bids identified in an attachment to the Notice. To be authorized to receive the total 10-year support amounts listed, the long-form applicants identified in that attachment were required to submit, by 6:00 p.m. ET on October 22, 2021, acceptable irrevocable stand-by letter(s) of credit and Bankruptcy Code opinion letter(s) from their legal counsel for each state where they have winning bids that are ready to be authorized.
 
  • On October 1, the WCB issued a Public Notice (DA 21-1242) seeking comment on several petitions for designation as an Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC). The petitioners are winning bidders, or those assigned support through the division of winning bids, in the RDOF auction. Comments were due October 18, 2021 and reply comments were due October 25, 2021.


Schools and Libraries (E-Rate)

  • On October 7, the WCB released an Order (DA 21-1257) extending its previous waiver of the E-Rate program gift rule through June 30, 2022, the end of funding year 2021, to ensure that schools and libraries can benefit from and solicit offers for improved broadband connections or equipment for remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic without violating FCC rules. The extension also partially grants a Comcast petition which sought a waiver of certain E-Rate program rules to allow the company to conduct a pilot program to expand its “Lift Zone” initiative.
 
  • On October 1, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 21-107) which would update the definition of library in the FCC’s rules to provide clarity regarding the eligibility of Tribal libraries and promote increased participation of underrepresented Tribal libraries in the E-Rate Program.


Rural Health Care

 
  • On October 27, the FCC announced a third set of Pilot projects that have been selected for the Connected Care Pilot Program.  The FCC will support 36 new projects, providing $15 million in support, for connected care services across the country, focusing on low-income and Veteran patients.