Legislation continues to be written and released against the March 11th American Rescue Plan Act. May 10th saw details of the State and Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Fund released, which grants funds to every US county for a number of purposes. May 11th saw an update from the FCC on the $7.17B ECF (Emergency Connectivity Fund), and May 12th the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. These funds can contribute to subsidizing broadband deployments under certain conditions, but as always, the devil is in the details. Details and links below to these programs and questions can always be directed to Geoverse. We have full-time in-house resources well versed at navigating these programs.
May 10, the U.S. Department of Treasury released guidance on the State and Local Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Fund (Recovery Fund), part of the American Rescue Plan Act. The bill includes $65.1 billion in direct, flexible aid to every county in America, as well as other crucial investments in local communities.
Additionally, the U.S. Treasury opened the new portal that counties must complete to receive Fiscal Recovery Funds.
The bill includes $65.1 billion in direct, flexible aid to every county in America, as well as other crucial investments in local communities.
Summary of the FCC’s Final Rules for the Emergency Connectivity Fund
The FCC on May 11 issued rules implementing Section 7402 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the Act) that created a $7.171 billion “Emergency Connectivity Fund” (ECF) for eligible schools and libraries to purchase eligible equipment and advanced telecommunications and information services for use by students, school staff, and library patrons at locations other than a school or library.
Parties can file petitions for reconsideration or clarification within 30 days of the public notice of the rules (typically the Federal Register publication). However, given the fact that the application window for the first round of funding may open as early as mid-June, it’s recommended to raise questions with the Wireline Competition Bureau as soon as possible.
At a high level, the Commission adopted rules that will allow schools and libraries to receive funding for the purchase of laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots and other specific equipment, and broadband connectivity for students, school staff, and library patrons who lack access to connected devices and broadband connections sufficient to engage in remote learning during the upcoming school year. If there is funding remaining after an initial funding round for prospective expenses, the Commission allow schools and libraries to apply for reimbursement for purchased made for remote learning from the date the pandemic began.
Additional details on the FCC final rules can be found here.
May 12 saw the FCC open the rules for the $3.2B Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. The EBB program will provide a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also 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.