News from the ITA

April 26, 2021

 

Broadband: Keeping our Communities in the Game!

Virtual Annual Convention Agenda Coming Soon - ITA Golf Outing Registration is Open!

Please mark your calendars for the ITA 2021 "Broadband: Keeping Our Communities in the Game!" Annual Convention on June 7th and 8th. We received some great submissions for presentations and are in the process of finalizing the agenda. We are excited about the information our speakers are going to share with our members and look forward to sharing the agenda with you soon as we open the convention registration. Similar to last year, we plan to open registrations to companies and allow any employees within the registered companies to participate.

Although the convention is virtual, the ITA is hosting an in-person golf outing at Piper Glen Golf Course in Springfield on June 10th! Registration is open, so take advantage of the opportunity to hit the links, network, and strengthen relationships with other ITA members. This year we are offering more opportunities than ever to get your brand noticed. We hope you will be able to join us! Click here for details!


Illinois Legislative Update

The Illinois General Assembly returned to Springfield Tuesday through Friday for a long, busy week of legislative session. Both the House and Senate convened in-person in their respective chambers for debate on legislation and they also continued to conduct committee hearings virtually through video conferences.

Friday, April 23rd, was the deadline for bills to gain approval in their originating chamber. Unless an extension is given, all bills not passed out of their originating chamber will be returned to the Senate Assignments Committee or House Rules Committee. Following long hours of debate, hundreds of bills passed out of their originating chamber. The House approved HB 2379, extending the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act from June 1, 2021 to December 31, 2023 and HB 2380 extending the Telecommunications Act and the Video Competition Law from December 31, 2021 to December 31, 2024 and providing relief from Carrier of Last Resort obligations for CenturyLink.

The House and Senate are scheduled to return for session Tuesday, April 27th. 


Federal News & Programs

FCC Opens Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to Providers for Testing (NECA Washington Watch)

Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel announced on April 19, 2021, the FCC opened the Emergency Broadband Benefit program to participating broadband providers for testing to familiarize themselves with the program systems in anticipation of the impending consumer launch. Rosenworcel said over 600 providers have committed to the EBB program. 

FCC Emergency Broadband Benefit Program Webinar on April 27 (NECA Washington Watch)

The FCC issued a public notice on April 16, 2021, announcing it will host a public webinar on April 27, 2021, to provide information on the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, which provides a discount of up to $50 per month ($75 on tribal lands) off a qualifying household’s internet bill and a discount of up to $100 towards the purchase of a tablet, laptop or desktop computer. The FCC said the webinar will provide consumers and outreach partners with an overview of the EBB program, eligibility information and enrollment procedures. The FCC will provide an overview of the outreach tool kit materials developed for partners and the public to create awareness about the program.

FCC Adopts Items at April Open Meeting (NECA Washington Watch)

The FCC adopted the following items at its April 22, 2021 Open Meeting: an FNPRM to increase the effectiveness of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by requiring covered text providers to support text messaging to 988; a report and order and FNPRM(news) adopting a new spectrum allocation for commercial space launch operations and seeking comment on additional allocations and service rules; an NPRM(news) to revise the technical rules for Part 74 low-power auxiliary station devices to permit a recently developed, and more efficient, type of wireless microphone system; a third NPRM to promote public safety by ensuring 911 call centers and consumers receive timely and useful notifications of disruptions to 911 service; an order(news) to conclude the FCC’s 800 MHz rebanding program due to the successful fulfillment of this public safety mandate; a report and order(news) to require clear disclosures for broadcast programming sponsored, paid for or furnished by a foreign government or its representative; and a forfeiture order fining Tele Circuit Network over $4 million for switching consumers from their preferred carrier to Tele Circuit without permission and adding unauthorized charges to consumer bills. Some of the items are not yet released.

Senate Republicans Announce Infrastructure Framework (NECA Washington Watch)

Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) unveiled a Republican infrastructure framework on April 22, 2021, which includes $568 billion in infrastructure investments over a five-year period. The framework proposes $65 billion for broadband infrastructure, among other things. 

Bill Proposes Increased Broadband Access for Low-Income Americans (NECA Washington Watch)

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) introduced a bicameral bill on April 13, 2021, they say would increase access to broadband service for low-income urban and rural Americans and help states increase awareness and enrollment in the Lifeline program. The bill would: award grants to at least five states; direct the FCC to consider several factors in evaluating the applications; allow states to use the funds for a variety of Lifeline enrollment efforts; and require the FCC to issue a report to Congress within a year of establishing the grant program evaluating the program’s effectiveness.

FCC Releases Form 477 Data on Broadband Deployment (NECA Washington Watch)

The Office of Economics and Analytics, in conjunction with the Wireline Competition and Wireless Telecommunications bureaus issued a public notice on April 9, 2021, announcing the release of updated data on fixed broadband deployment, and mobile voice and broadband deployment as of June 30, 2020, based on Form 477 data. Fixed deployment data includes revisions made by filers through March 11, 2021, and mobile data includes revisions made by filers through December 29, 2020.


State Broadband Offices and USDA to Host Webinar April 28th on DLT Grants

The State Broadband & USDA Offices for Missouri and Illinois are co-hosting a webinar to assist prospective applicants in assembling their applications and needing guidance. USDA announced on April 5, 2021 that it is accepting applications for Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) program grants to help provide educational and medical services in rural areas.

The DLT program helps fund distance learning and telemedicine services in rural areas to increase access to education, training and health care resources that are otherwise limited or unavailable. USDA plans to make $44.5 million available in fiscal year 2021. Of this amount, $10.2 million is intended for projects that provide substance use disorder treatment services in rural areas.

Eligible applicants include local governmental entities, federally recognized tribes, nonprofits, and for-profit businesses.

Presenter: Chris Collins, General Field Representative, MO-IL, USDA Telecommunications Program

Please register to attend the webinar.

 

Illinois Telecommunications Association

312 S. 4th Street, Suite 100

           Springfield, IL 62701             

 (217) 572-1262

www.il-ita.com