On January 4, 2021, The Wireline Competition Bureau (“the WCB”) released a Public Notice seeking comment on the Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund. The Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund was established in the December 27, 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and allocated $3.2 billion to the FCC to establish an Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, under which eligible households may receive a discount on broadband services during the emergency periods related to the COVID 19 pandemic and eligible providers would receive reimbursement for the discounts.
Providers interested in participating in the program must elect to do so and either be designated as an eligible telecommunications carrier (“ETC”) or be approved by the FCC. On non-Tribal lands, eligible households will receive a discount of up to $50.00 per month, and on Tribal lands, eligible households may receive a discount of up to $75.00 per month. Providers that also supply eligible households with a laptop, desktop, or tablet (“connected device”) are eligible to receive a one time reimbursement of $100.00 for the connected device, if the charge for that device is more than $10.00 but less than $50.00.
In the notice the WCB seeks comment on the eligibility and election process for participating providers, the process for designating non-ETC providers as eligible, tracking and verifying household eligibility, which services and devices should be covered, the process for receiving reimbursement, what additional benefits should be provided to Tribal lands, the best method for promoting awareness of the program, the auditing process, enforcement of the program, application of the part 54 regulations to the program, and program reporting and conclusion methods. Comments are due on or before January 25, 2021. Reply comments are due on or before February 16, 2021.
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