Vol. 18, No. 17
April 25, 2022
Competition Builds Broadband Faster and Better
INCOMPAS members deploying fiber and wireless infrastructure throughout the U.S. met with NTIA officials last week. During that meeting, they described how they consistently face delays in permitting and gaining access to the public rights-of-way, including access to poles and railroad crossings. As such, they explained how it is necessary for state and local governments to have planning guidelines in place that will enable quicker deployment of broadband infrastructure, including small cells and other wireless equipment and fiber that is used by both fixed and mobile providers to connect their networks and serve consumers and businesses. 

With the upcoming NOFOs, NTIA is already starting to work closely with utility commissions and state broadband offices and others, and INCOMPAS encouraged NTIA to continue to emphasize that speed to market is critical for broadband infrastructure. As such, we encouraged NTIA to condition its funding on state and local jurisdictions streamlining their permitting processes, including allowing for batch permitting, and requiring that permitting and franchise fees be publicly disclosed, competitively and technology neutral, and non-discriminatory based on actual and direct costs of localities for managing the rights-of-way and its permitting processes. 

To help draw attention to streamlining issues, the INCOMPAS BroadLAND campaign released a video highlight of an exchange between FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) during a recent Congressional hearing that highlighted the need for conditions on federal funding for streamlined processing to enable fast deployment of new networks and create a “win-win” for consumers and local communities.

Wholesale = Competition

Last week, INCOMPAS also led a coalition of other organizations including Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, Consumer Reports, Electronic Frontier Foundation, New America, Open Technology Institute and Public Knowledge, in calling for common sense wholesale access policies at NTIA that ensure government funds build open access networks designed for a competition future and not a monopoly past. This approach, consistent with NTIA precedent and actions taken by the White House and other agencies to boost competition, is a sure-fire way to ensure ongoing affordability solutions are embedded into public broadband investments. 
Sign Up for NTIA's C-SCRIP Program
NTIA is requesting that companies join its Communications Supply Chain Risk Information Partnership (C-SCRIP), a program designed to share supply chain security risk information with trusted communications providers and suppliers. NTIA’s goal is to improve small and rural communications providers’ and equipment suppliers’ access to information about risks to key elements in their supply chain.

NTIA will tailor this risk information to be relevant and accessible to the C-SCRIP community. Additionally, C-SCRIP will share public security alerts, relevant training events, and grant funding opportunities from government partners with this community. Please sign up here to join NTIA's mailing list.
FCC Issues Compliance Guide for Order Improving Broadband Access to Multiple Tenant Environments
The FCC issued a small entity compliance guide on the report and order improving competitive broadband access to multiple tenant environments. The guide provides information on compliance requirements, record keeping and reporting requirements, and the implementation date.
FCC Commits $37 Million in Emergency Connectivity Funding
The FCC is committing $37 million in the 13th wave of Emergency Connectivity Fund program support, helping to close the Homework Gap. This latest round of funding supports more than 170 schools, 30 libraries, and four consortia across the country, including for students in Alaska, Indiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas.

On April 28, the FCC will open a third application filing window that closes May 13, 2022, for eligible equipment and services to be delivered or received in the upcoming school year. During this third application filing window, eligible schools and libraries can submit requests for funding to purchase eligible equipment and up to 12 months of recurring services between July 1, 2022, and December 31, 2023. Given past demand, the third application filing window will likely be the last opportunity for schools and libraries to request funding before the remaining Emergency Connectivity Funds are exhausted.

The FCC’s latest announcement includes nearly $27 million in commitments from Window 1 applications and over $10 million in commitments from Window 2 applications. More details about which schools and libraries have received funding commitments can be found on the FCC website.
Biden Administration Launches Rural Partner Network
The White House and the U.S. Department Agriculture announced that the Biden Administration is launching the Rural Partners Network (RPN), a new whole-of-government effort led by the USDA that will help rural communities access government resources and funding to create jobs, build infrastructure and support long-term economic stability. The RPN is focused on improving social and economic well-being bolstered by existing local partnerships and assets, and will launch in selected communities in Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico and certain tribes within Arizona. The RPN will expand to Nevada, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, West Virginia, Wisconsin and tribal communities in Alaska in August.
9th Circuit Denies Petition for Rehearing of Net Neutrality Law
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an order on April 20, 2022, denying a petition for rehearing by NCTA, CTIA, USTelecom and ACA Connects of the January 2022 ruling upholding a district court’s denial of a motion for preliminary injunction to prohibit enforcement of California’s net neutrality law. The circuit court had concluded the district court correctly denied the preliminary injunction because only the invocation of federal regulatory authority can preempt state regulatory authority.
NTIA to Host Pre-NOFO Technical Assistance Webinars
NTIA is hosting a pre-Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) technical assistance webinar series through May in connection with the five new broadband grant programs authorized and funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA): The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program; the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program; and the Digital Equity Act Programs, which include the State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program, State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program, and Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program.

These pre-NOFO technical assistance webinars are designed to help prospective applicants understand NTIA’s IIJA broadband grant programs and to assist applicants to prepare high quality grant applications.

NTIA Webinar Schedule
  • Webinar #4: Wednesday, April 27, 2022, from 2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET
  • Webinar #5: Wednesday, May 11, 2022, from 2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET

These webinars will be hosted via NTIA’s virtual platform and conducted as live webinars. NTIA will post the registration information on its BroadbandUSA website as soon as the virtual platform is finalized.