Vol. 18, No. 7
February 14, 2022
INCOMPAS Awards First "Streaming Champion Award"
to Janet Mills, Governor of Maine
Last week, INCOMPAS presented Maine’s Gov. Janet Mills with its first ever “Steaming Champion Award” in recognition of her work to promote streaming innovation, creativity, and consumer choice through her legislative and policy work. The award was accepted on the Governor’s behalf by Peggy Schaffer, executive director of the ConnectME Authority, at The 2022 INCOMPAS Policy Summit in Washington, D.C.

The Streaming Champion Award was created to highlight individuals in the creative, policy and business space whose work promotes continued innovation and competition in the streaming economy. Streaming competition has brought more choices and lower prices to consumers, while creating more opportunity for diverse content creators to bring new ideas to families across the nation and promotes the deployment of high-speed broadband networks.

INCOMPAS praised the Governor’s veto last summer and continues to advocate for competition policies that promote both streaming innovation and drive deployment demand for new broadband networks that deliver faster speeds at more affordable prices.

“It is a real honor to present Gov. Janet Mills with the first Streaming Champion Award. Last summer, Gov. Mills took the important step to veto legislation, the first of its kind, that would have added new fees and taxes on streaming services and fiber deployments, putting consumers and families at risk of higher bills and deterring high-speed broadband deployment,” said INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering. “In her veto, Gov. Mills highlighted the risks to consumers and families, while pointing out that low-cost streaming services help drive the market for better, faster, more affordable broadband services.”

INCOMPAS was founded over 40 years ago to help protect and promote more competition in the communications marketplace. Its work led to the creation of bipartisan competition laws and access policy that help drive new innovation, broadband deployment, and the streaming revolution. Today INCOMPAS membership includes leading builders of fiber networks and local broadband companies in Maine and across the country, as well as the nation’s leading streaming services. INCOMPAS fiber members include the Maine-based companies of Tilson and GWI, and the association also represents the nation’s leading streaming providers such as Netflix, DISH, and Amazon.
INCOMPAS Adds Infrastructure Funding Resource to Website
The federal government's moves to quickly address the country's broadband and infrastructure needs is presenting unprecedented opportunities for INCOMPAS member companies.

INCOMPAS has added a new Infrastructure Funding resource to its website to help its members stay apprised of new funding and program requests being authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (IIJA). We also provide resources and guides that shows more on specific program information, as well as timelines for comment periods and notices for each FCC, NTIA and USDA program.

FCC Commits $126M in ECF Funds for Schools, Libraries
The FCC announced that it is committing $125,962,023.72 in its 9t wave of Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) program support. This round of funding will support over 270,000 students and provide funding for 340 schools, 20 libraries and 6 consortia, which are approved to receive over 330,000 connected devices and over 39,000 broadband connections. Since its June 2021 launch, the program has committed over $4.5 billion supporting all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the District of Columbia.
The funding can be used to support off-campus learning, such as nightly homework, to ensure students across the country have the necessary support to keep up with their education. Total commitments to date are supporting over 10,800 schools, 875 libraries, and 125 consortia for nearly 9.9 million connected devices and over 4.9 million broadband connections. More details about which schools and libraries have received funding commitments can be found at https://www.fcc.gov/emergency-connectivity-fund.
Senators Introduce Rural Broadband Bill
Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) introduced the Connect Unserved Americans Act. They said the legislation seeks to ensure the Department of Agriculture targets funding through the ReConnect Program to areas most in need of reliable broadband services, and would enhance the coordination between federal agencies that are disbursing broadband funding to prevent the overbuilding of existing broadband networks at the taxpayer’s expense.
NTIA Urged to Prioritize Rural America for Broadband Funds
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) joined Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the NTIA expressing the importance of reliable broadband service for rural America. The Senators requested that federally funded broadband projects prioritize unserved areas, instead of overbuilding existing broadband infrastructure in areas with reliable broadband service.
“NTIA has an opportunity to make substantial impact on connecting rural America. However, doing so will require that your agency outline rules that specifically prohibit overbuilding and that set clear criteria to ensure projects targeted at unserved areas are actually prioritized. The regulations and methodology for the distribution of these funds must prioritize projects that are connecting customers and communities to broadband for the first time and avoid projects in areas where reliable broadband is already being provided or where there is an enforceable commitment to build high-speed broadband using federal or state funds,” the senators wrote.
Sen. Wicker Urges Administration to Promote Streamlined Permitting, Approvals to Expedite Broadband Deployment
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, sent a letter on Monday urging Mitch Landrieu, senior advisor to President Joseph Biden for Infrastructure Coordination, to work with states and localities to promote more streamlined permitting processes in advance of the distribution of more than $42 billion in grants for broadband deployment.