Vol. 17, No. 7
February 22, 2021
INCOMPAS, NTCA and WIA Call for Affordable Universal Access
The heads of three leading broadband trade associations sent a letter to the White House today urging stronger action on universal broadband access.

INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering joined with Shirley Bloomfield of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association representing rural providers and Jonathan Adelstein from WIA, which counts wireless infrastructure companies as members, signed the letter calling on the Biden Administration to make “Broadband for All” central to its COVID-19 recovery efforts as infrastructure investment will stimulate education, telemedicine and small business growth.

The letter states, “Despite best efforts, we still face serious challenges in connecting all Americans, including businesses of all sizes, to high-speed broadband. We realize that the mission to achieve universal broadband availability is an ambitious but essential goal. In order to address the growing digital divide in this country and to expand the availability of faster, more affordable broadband in our communities, we call on your administration, Congress, and the FCC to support additional funding for a better broadband future for all Americans.”

The associations seek action targeting underserved areas that need it most, helping low-income Americans stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide purchase broadband services at affordable prices.

The letter calls for federal investment in wired, wireless and 5G infrastructure, and better state and local coordination to remove barriers to deployment, ensuring that funding from the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and future investments reach families and communities in need faster: “COVID-19 has exposed deep gaps in Americans’ ability to access the internet, and it is time for our nation’s leaders and for Congress to act. Unfortunately, we hear too often about kids doing homework in parking lots because they lack access to fast, affordable broadband at home. This is a national tragedy. To meet this challenge, we ask the federal government to enable solutions that will make a significant difference in the lives of many.”
FCC Acting Chairwoman Establishes Broadband Data Task Force
At last week's FCC Open Meeting, Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced the establishment of a Broadband Data task force. Jean Kiddoo was named chair of the task force, which will coordinate the FCC's broadband mapping and data collection efforts across the various expert agency teams, including the Office of Economics and Analytics, Wireline Competition Bureau, and other offices and bureaus.
USAC to Host Lifeline and EBB Program Webinar on February 23
USAC will host an introductory webinar on Tuesday, February 23 at 1 p.m. EST to provide an overview of Lifeline and the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP). The webinar will include a review of USAC Lifeline systems used to check eligibility, enroll consumers, and claim reimbursement, as USAC prepares to make those systems available for the new program.

The webinar is designed for service providers, including providers that have not been designated as eligible telecommunications carriers, interested in participating in the EBBP. If interested, register here.
February 25 Industry Listening Session: Vendor Diversity for 5G
As laid out in the 5G Implementation Plan, NTIA will host a second industry listening session, which is scheduled from 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. EST this Thursday, February 25.

This listening session will be focused on concrete and actionable steps that the United States Government, in partnership with industry, can take with regard to vendor diversity and 5G. Initial respondents will provide a baseline for participants to engage in a moderated discussion of opportunities, challenges, needs, and concrete proposals that government and industry should pursue in partnership to promote vendor diversity and to advance secure 5G deployment.