Vol. 17, No. 21
June 1, 2021
FCC Announces June Open Meeting Agenda
The FCC announced the agenda for its June 17 open meeting, where it will consider:
FCC to Host June 29 Showcase for Open RAN Network Solutions
The FCC will hold an Open RAN Solutions Showcase by webcast on June 29 at 9:30 a.m. ET. The showcase will give both fixed and mobile network operators an opportunity to hear directly from vendors whose interoperable, open interface, standards-based 5G network equipment and services will be ready and available for purchase and installation by January 1, 2022, if not sooner.

The showcase should be of particular interest and value to network operators planning to participate in the Commission’s Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program.
Broadband Bills Introduced in Senate
Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) reintroduced the Rural Connectivity Advancement Program Act. The bill would allocate 10% of proceeds from spectrum auctions to be used to build out broadband networks and would require the use of auction funds to address gaps in broadband access. The bill was first introduced in the 116th Congress.

Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) reintroduced the Broadband Parity Act, which would direct the FCC and other federal agencies to determine “a baseline level of service internet providers must provide customers when offering service via a federal broadband support program,” according to a statement. The bill was first introduced in 2019.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill that would make small ports a priority for the Agriculture Department’s Rural Utility Service broadband access loan program. The program funds internet infrastructure for rural areas and help eligible ports have real-time access to weather updates. Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) plans to introduce companion legislation in the House.
Lawmakers Letter Seeks COVID Funds to Help Provide Internet
Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) led a bicameral letter signed by nine lawmakers calling on the Treasury Department to recommend a change to the Interim Final Rule related to allowable expenditures of funds for state and local governments under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The proposed change would allow for more municipalities to use funds to provide accessible, high-speed internet in their towns and cities.

The Treasury Department’s Interim Final Rule expects state and local governments to use ARPA funds in areas that lack access to wireline internet connections capable of reliably delivering speeds of 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload (25/3) while also requiring recipients of ARPA funds to invest in broadband speeds of at least 100 Mbps download and 100 Mbps upload (100/100). This limits municipalities that have broadband too slow for multiple video conferencing connections from using ARPA funds to upgrade their infrastructure to higher speeds.
Sen. Wyden Requests 1 Gig for American Rescue Plan Funds
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) urged Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to allow more underserved communities to deploy modern broadband networks with American Rescue Plan funds, in a letter sent last Tuesday.

In Treasury’s interim rule, any community with more than 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds would be ineligible for the funds. That outdated definition of broadband is inadequate for modern internet use, Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and other experts have made clear. Sen. Wyden urged Treasury to update its rule to make funds available to communities that lack affordable broadband options, or with download and upload speeds below 100 Mbps.