Vol. 18, No. 18
May 2, 2022
INCOMPAS Comments on E-Rate Competitive Bidding Portal
INCOMPAS submitted comments in response to FCC's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to establish a bidding portal that would facilitate the competitive bidding process and reduce the risk of waste, fraud and abuse in the E-Rate program.

INCOMPAS wrote, "As advocates for competition policy and vendors in the E-Rate program, INCOMPAS and its members are concerned that the Commission’s proposal to create an online portal at USAC for competitive bidding in the E-Rate program will unnecessarily disrupt the E-Rate provider selection process and that implementing the portal across the industry and for schools, libraries, and consortia will far outweigh any potential benefits or ability to better address waste, fraud, and abuse. These comments address those concerns and urge the Commission to ultimately abandon its proposals to change the current competitive bidding process."
FCC Announces Agenda for May Open Meeting
The FCC released the agenda for its May 19 open meeting, where it will consider:

  • Combatting Illegal Robocalls – A Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and FNPRM addressing foreign-originated and other illegal robocalls from multiple angles.
  • Expanding Broadband Service Through the A-CAM Program – An NPRM seeking comment on a proposal by the ACAM Broadband Coalition to achieve widespread deployment of 100/20 Mbps broadband service throughout the rural areas served by carriers currently receiving Alternative Connect America Model support, and proposing targeted modifications to the FCC's rules to improve the efficiency and efficacy of the high-cost program.
  • Modernizing Priority Services for National Security and Emergency Response – A Report and Order that would update and streamline its rules providing priority provision and restoration of service for national security and emergency response users.
  • Updating FM Radio Directional Antenna Verification – A Report and Order that would allow applicants proposing directional FM antennas the option of verifying the directional antenna pattern through computer modeling.
FCC Opens Filing Window for Emergency Connectivity Fund
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced the opening of a third application filing window to award at least $1 billion in Emergency Connectivity Fund support to help close the Homework Gap. From April 28, 2022 until May 13, 2022, eligible schools and libraries can submit requests for funding to purchase eligible equipment and services between July 1, 2022, and December 31, 2023. Given past demand, the third application filing window will likely be the last opportunity for schools and libraries to request funding before available funds in the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund program are exhausted.

Last week, the FCC announced the 13th wave of funding, supporting over 170 schools, 30 libraries, and 4 consortia across the country, including for students in Alaska, Indiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Total commitments to date include over $4.79 billion for over 11,000 schools, 900 libraries, and 130 consortia. The funding can be used to purchase laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connections to serve unmet needs for off-premises use by students, school staff, and library patrons. More details about the third window and which schools and libraries have received funding commitments can be found here.
FCC's CAC Releases Broadband Label Recommendations
The FCC’s Consumer Advisory Committee (CAC) released recommendations regarding consumer broadband labels, which were adopted at its April 27 meeting. The CAC recommended:

  • The FCC define point of sale as the shopping period beginning at the time the consumer seeks to determine the best broadband product for their needs and including the point at which the consumer makes the purchase
  • The required disclosure of the label is satisfied on a provider's website and at the alternate sales channel
  • The required disclosure must be effectively communicated in a manner that complies with applicable accessibility requirements
  • Smaller providers be given additional time to comply with the requirements.

Additionally, the CAC said the FCC should require the month-to-month rate for standalone broadband service be displayed on the consumer broadband label. Commissioner Simington spoke at the meeting and said as rules are crafted, he hopes they balance critical consumer information with regulatory burden, while at the same time preventing information overload.
White House Announces Declaration for Future of the Internet
On Thursday, the White House announced that the United States and 60 global partners have launched a Declaration for the Future of the Internet. This Declaration represents a political commitment among Declaration partners to advance a positive vision for the Internet and digital technologies. It reclaims the promise of the internet in the face of the global opportunities and challenges presented by the 21st Century. It also reaffirms and recommits its partners to a single global internet – one that is truly open and fosters competition, privacy and respect for human rights.

The Declaration’s principles include commitments to:

  • Protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people 
  • Promote a global Internet that advances the free flow of information 
  • Advance inclusive and affordable connectivity so that all people can benefit from the digital economy 
  • Promote trust in the global digital ecosystem, including through protection of privacy
  • Protect and strengthen the multi-stakeholder approach to governance that keeps the internet running for the benefit of all
Reps. Introduce Robocall Traceback Enhancement Act
Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), Republican Leader on the Communications and Technology (C&T) Subcommittee at the Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced the Robocall Trace Back Enhancement Act with C&T Chairman Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), Rep. John Curtis (R-Utah), and Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D-Ariz.). Their bill would strengthen privately led efforts to trace back the origins of irritating and illegal robocalls while holding scammers and complicit bad actors accountable.

The Robocall Trace Back Enhancement Act provides protection for providers who share information relating to suspected fraudulent, abusive, or unlawful robocalls; illegally spoofed calls; or other illegal calls to registered organizations helping to trace back the origin of these suspicious robocalls. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
Legislation Introduced to Strengthen Network Security
Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, announced bipartisan legislation this week to strengthen and secure our communications systems, which are critical to our economic competitiveness and national security. The Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Act, which was introduced with Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), would require the FCC to permanently establish the Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (Council). The Council is responsible for advising the FCC on issues related to network security, resiliency, and interoperability of our communications systems. The Council has been re-chartered on a temporary basis every two years since 2009. This legislation would authorize the Council in statute, providing a permanent basis to continue the Council’s essential work.

“As we work to invest in domestic manufacturing and shore up our supply chains, it’s essential we strengthen our communications networks to protect against evolving threats to this critical infrastructure,” said Sen. Peters. “Cyber or terror attacks have the potential to widely disrupt our networks and compromise our ability to communicate – especially in the event of emergencies. That’s why I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to bolster and secure our communications networks and will work to see it signed into law.”

Companion legislation was introduced in the House by Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) and Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) and included in the House-passed economic competitiveness bill.
NTIA Final Pre-NOFO Webinar Scheduled for May 11
NTIA is hosting 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 #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.