Vol. 17, No. 13
April 5, 2021
FCC Announces Agenda for April Open Meeting
The FCC issued a tentative agenda for its April 22, 2021 Open Meeting:

  • Text-to-988 – An FNPRM to increase the effectiveness of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by proposing to require covered text providers to support text messaging to 988.

  • Commercial Space Launch Operations – A Report and Order and FNPRM that would adopt a new spectrum allocation for commercial space launch operations and seek comment on additional allocations and service rules.

  • Wireless Microphones – An NPRM that proposes to revise the technical rules for Part 74 low-power auxiliary station (LPAS) devices to permit a recently developed, and more efficient, type of wireless microphone system.

  • Improving 911 Reliability – A Third NPRM to promote public safety by ensuring that 911 call centers and consumers receive timely and useful notifications of disruptions to 911 service.

Sen. Gillibrand Announces Bill to Invest $6 Billion in Broadband
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) announced legislation to invest $6 billion for the Emergency Broadband Benefit program to help close the homework gap and ensure families across New York can access essential online services.

The Emergency Broadband Connections Act would bolster funding for the program, which provides $50 per month to workers who have been laid off or furloughed during the pandemic and $75 per month on Tribal lands, along with a range of other assistance. The legislation also facilitates the approval of benefits by providing funding to help states participate in the National Lifeline Eligibility verifier and requiring the FCC to coordinate with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set up automated connections between the National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier and the National Accuracy Clearinghouse for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Sens. Graham, Scott Introduce State Fix Act
South Carolina’s Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott introduced the State Fix Act, which would provide $20 billion in funding to expand broadband infrastructure to rural areas. The bill comes after the reintroduction of the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act by House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) that would allocate $94 billion to broadband build out.

The State Fix Act will:
  • Provide $20 billion for broadband infrastructure utilizing fiber optic cables, wireless and 5G technologies
  • Use a reverse auction method to provide top-quality broadband service at the lowest price for the American taxpayer
  • Base a state’s funding on their unserved (no internet access at all) and a percentage of their underserved (low-quality service) populations to distribute funds to the areas of greatest need like rural America and Opportunity Zones
Senators Introduce Bill to Close Rural-Urban Digital Divide
Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) reintroduced the bipartisan Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act to help close the rural-urban digital divide and expand access to broadband in rural parts of West Virginia, New Hampshire and across the country.

The bipartisan bill would help ensure that there is equitable wireless service in rural and urban areas. It would direct the FCC to establish a national standard for determining whether mobile and broadband services in rural areas are ‘reasonably comparable’ to service provided in urban areas. Carriers would have to meet this new national standard in order to receive federal funding.