Vol. 18, No. 13
March 28, 2022
House E&C FCC Oversight Hearing Scheduled for March 31
House Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-N.J.) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) announced additional details on the Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing scheduled for this Thursday, March 31, at 10:30 a.m. on oversight of the FCC. Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel and Commissioners Brendan Carr, Geoffrey Starks and Nathan Simington will testify.
House Democrats Issue Letter to NTIA on IIJA Priorities
Last week, 17 Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson at NTIA outlining their priorities on the implementation of infrastructure broadband investments.

Among these priorities, the Committee members noted affordability as a major barrier to broadband access and urged NTIA to provide the most possible help to those struggling to afford broadband service by making low-cost offering requirements as widely available as feasible.

The Committee members also stressed funding should prioritize projects that implement fiber networks and other technologies that can be scalable to meet the speeds that consumers will demand in the future. Additionally, the members wrote that NTIA should ensure engagement with stakeholders at the federal and state level is ongoing as the law is implemented and should reflect the needs of the communities lacking meaningful access and adoption of high-speed broadband service.
FCC Announces $313 Million for Broadband Through RDOF
The FCC announced that it is ready to authorize more than $313 million through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) to fund new broadband deployments in 19 states bringing service to over 130,000 locations.

This is the eighth round of funding in the program, which to date has provided over $5 billion in funding for new deployments in 47 states to bring broadband to over 2.8 million locations.
Updates to the America COMPETES Act
The Senate returned last week to resume consideration of the House-passed America COMPETES Act (H.R. 4521), which aims to boost domestic innovation and provide billions for semiconductor manufacturing. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) unveiled a 2,375-page substitute amendment based on the Senate-passed version of the legislation (S. 1260). He also filed for cloture, seeking to limit debate, on both the substitute and the underlying bill. Leaders in both chambers want to set up a formal House-Senate conference, which requires the chambers to use the same bill number for their versions of a measure. If the Senate passes the amended H.R. 4521, it could then take additional steps to set up the negotiations.
Senate Approves Legislation in Executive Session
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation convened an Executive Session on March 22, and voted to approve several pieces of legislation including:

  • Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act of 2021 (S. 1541) would require the FCC to ensure reasonable charges for telephone and other communications services in correctional and detention facilities. A U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decision in 2017 limited the FCC’s authority to regulate in-state calls, meaning it can only determine whether the rates are just and reasonable for a small fraction of calls made by incarcerated people. The bill, introduced by Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), would override the court decision and allow the FCC to also regulate calls made within state lines.

  • Next Generation Telecommunications Act (S. 3014) would create a council comprised of federal agency leaders to advise Congress on 6G and other advanced wireless communications technologies. The bill was introduced by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) in October and has two Republican co-sponsors, including panel ranking member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). 
NTIA to Host Pre-NOFO Technical Assistance Webinars
NTIA will host a pre-Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) technical assistance webinar series through May in connection with the five new broadband grant programs authorized and funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA): 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 pre-NOFO technical assistance webinars are designed to help prospective applicants understand NTIA’s IIJA broadband grant programs and to assist applicants to prepare high quality grant applications.

NTIA Webinar Schedule
  • Webinar #3: Wednesday, April 6, 2022, from 2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET
  • Webinar #4: Wednesday, April 27, 2022, from 2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET
  • Webinar #5: Wednesday, May 11, 2022, from 2:30 p.m.-4:00 p.m. ET

These webinars will be hosted via NTIA’s virtual platform and conducted as live webinars. NTIA will post the registration information on its BroadbandUSA website as soon as the virtual platform is finalized.