Updated: Apr 5, 2021
A discussion with Rohan Ranaraja, Executive Director of Government Affairs and Regulation at Geoverse. Rohan and his teamwork year round with customers and multiple government agencies to match available funding with need for the various communities we serve. With this background and expertise, Geoverse can also help our partners and customers identify funding opportunities for their own underserved communities and enterprises.
i. What’s the latest status on the 2020 CAA, which included $5B USD for broadband networking and was signed into law back in December 2020, – when do you expect the “final” details on eligibility and application process to be available?
Rohan: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has already determined the final rules pertaining to the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program and the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. The EBB Program is set to get underway later this month and the filing window for the COIVD-19 Telehealth Program is expected to open in the next 30 days. However, the NTIA is yet to release the final rules and timing for submitting Application relating to the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, Broadband Infrastructure Program and the Connecting Minority Communities Fund. The NTIA is expected to release details pertaining to these programs in May.
ii. For the American Rescue Plan Act – do we know what levels of funding are scheduled to be available and for which target communities (schools, municipalities, minority communities, healthcare….) for broadband networking?
Rohan: The American Rescue Plan sets aside $7.1B, through the Emergency Connectivity Fund, to fund connectivity and devices for schools and libraries including off campus connectivity. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has opened a rulemaking proceeding to develop final rules pertaining to the program. The FCC is expected to open a special funding window in June during which schools may submit Applications for funding. Additionally, the American Rescue Act allocates $219B to state governments and another $120B to local governments through Coronavirus Recovery Fund. State and Local Governments may use these funds to make investments in broadband infrastructure.
iii. Does the legislation behind these types of grants typically offer broad authority on how the funds can be applied?
Rohan: The legislation is specific about the objective but gives the entities that administer the programs broad authority to develop rules pertaining to the program. Therefore, understanding the rules associated with each program is essential to securing funds. Additionally, the primary objective of each of these programs is to get the funding out quickly to bring immediate relief those in need and help spur the economic recovery following the pandemic.
iv. What are examples of what your group does with regard to helping identify and secure federal funds?
Rohan: We closely monitor legislative activity at the capital as well as the rule-making proceedings at the various government agencies. We try to understand the requirements and work with the Geoverse sales teams to inform our customers about the funding opportunities that are available to them based on their individual needs. We are also ready and available to partner with and assist our customer apply for the various funding opportunities.
Rohan Ranaraja has a 20-year career building and developing wireless networks for major carriers and turf vendors.