Vol. 18, No. 2
January 10, 2022
FCC Announces January Open Meeting Agenda
The FCC issued a tentative agenda for its January 27 open meeting. The FCC will consider:
  • Empowering Broadband Consumers Through Transparency – An NPRM that would propose to require that broadband internet access service providers display, at the point of sale, labels to disclose to consumers certain information about their prices, introductory rates, data allowances, broadband speeds, and management practices, among other things.
  • Connecting Tribal Libraries – A Report and Order that would amend the definition of library in the Commission’s rules to clarify that Tribal libraries are eligible for support through the E-Rate Program.
  • Updating Outmoded Political Programming and Record-Keeping Rules – A Report and Order to update outmoded political programming rules.
  • Facilitating Better Use of ‘White Space’ Spectrum – A Second Order on Reconsideration and Order resolving pending issues associated with white space devices and the white spaces databases, enabling unlicensed white space devices to continue operating efficiently while protecting other spectrum users.
  • Updating Equipment Authorization Rules – An NPRM that would propose to update existing equipment authorization rules to reflect more recent versions of the technical standards that are incorporated by reference and incorporate by reference a new technical standard so that our equipment authorization system can continue to keep pace with technology developments.
NTIA Requests Comments on Broadband
Programs in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
The NTIA is requesting public comment on a wide range of policy and program considerations associated with new broadband grant programs authorized and funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL): the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, the Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program, and the State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program.  

NTIA intends to release an additional request for comment to address the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program and Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program. The BIL provides $65 billion to expand broadband in communities across the U.S. Of those funds, $48.2 billion is allocated to NTIA to deploy broadband to unserved and underserved locations, create more low-cost broadband service options, deploy middle mile infrastructure, and address the digital equity and inclusion needs in our communities. NTIA is interested in input on the program design, policy issues, and implementation considerations for these new programs in order to meet the programmatic goals articulated in the statute and by the Biden Administration.

Commenters are encouraged to address any or all the questions enumerated in the Request for Comment. Written comments may be submitted to regulations.gov by 5 p.m. EST on February 4. All comments submitted will be posted publicly on regulations.gov.
NTIA to Host Broadband Grant Programs Listening Sessions
NTIA will host broadband grant program public virtual listening sessions in connection with the five new broadband grant programs authorized and funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: 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 public virtual listening sessions are designed to collect stakeholder input to help inform program development and implementation.

Virtual public listening sessions will take place:
  • Wednesday, January 12, 2022, from 2:30–4:00 p.m. EST
  • Wednesday, January 26, 2022, from 2:30–4:00 p.m. EST
  • Wednesday, February 9, 2022, from 2:30–4:00 p.m. EST
  • Wednesday, February 23, 2022, from 2:30–4:00 p.m. EST

These listening sessions will be hosted via NTIA’s virtual platform. Registration information will be available on the NTIA's BroadbandUSA website.
FCC Launches Affordable Connectivity Program
The FCC officially launched the Affordable Connectivity Program, the $14.2 billion successor to the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. Eligible households receive up to $30 per month discount toward internet service and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying tribal lands, and receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

Additionally, the FCC issued its draft Order/FNPRM and rules for the Affordable Connectivity Program. The final program rules must be adopted by the FCC by the statutory deadline of January 14, 2022. The draft rules will:
  • Establish household eligibility requirements for the Affordable Connectivity Program, including adding USDA’s WIC Program and expanding the income eligibility to 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
  • Adopt technology neutral Program rules for participating broadband providers.
  • Define the rules governing broadband plans and connected devices available in the new Program, and outline the reimbursement and claims processes providers must follow to receive the up to $30 per month standard subsidy or the up to $75 per month subsidy for eligible households on Tribal lands.
  • Adopt consumer protection rules, as well as disclosure and consumer consent requirements.
  • Establish a dedicated FCC complaint process for Program participants.
  • Establish a roadmap and consent requirements to assist legacy EBB Program households transitioning to the Affordable Connectivity Program.
  • Initiate the FCC’s outreach program as permitted in the Infrastructure Act to encourage eligible households to enroll in the new Program.
NANC Meeting Scheduled for February 9
The next North American Numbering Council meeting will be held February 9 via video conference and is available to the public. At this meeting, NANC will consider and vote on recommendations from the Call Authentication Trust Anchor working group on a set of best practices relating to how terminating voice service providers can best protect their subscribers using caller ID authentication information. NANC will also hear status reports from the Numbering Administration Oversight working group, the North American Portability Management and the Secure Telephone Identity Governance Authority.
FCC, NCTA Oppose Request for Supreme Court ROW Review
The FCC and NCTA filed briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 5, 2022, in response to the petition for writ of certiorari by the city of Eugene, Oregon, et al. of the Sixth Circuit’s decision upholding the FCC’s determination Title VI preempts petitioner city of Eugene’s fee on cable operators’ use of rights-of-way to provide an information service. The FCC claimed the Sixth Circuit correctly upheld the FCC’s determination in the third report and order that the City of Eugene was preempted from imposing its 7% fee for using its rights-of-way on cable operators providing broadband internet service. NCTA asserted the Sixth Circuit properly construed and applied the Cable Communications Policy Act’s express preemption clause.