News from the ITA

November 6, 2020

 

Election Results

Although voters participated in record numbers this election, the results in the race for President and the final partisan makeup of federal and state legislatures are still being sorted out as mail-in ballots continue to be counted in a number of states.

While ballots in some races are still being counted and official results are not yet in and subject to potential changes in a few close races. Democrats in the Illinois State Senate gained one seat to extend their majority to 41-18. In the Illinois House, Republicans appear to have netted two additional seats to reduce the House Democrat majority to 72-46.

Voters rejected Governor Pritzker's proposed Constitutional Amendment to implement a graduated income tax in Illinois. Only 45% of those voting on the constitutional amendment supported changing from the current flat tax in Illinois to the proposed graduated income tax. The constitutional amendment required the approval of three-fifths of those voting on the question or a majority of all those voting in the election to be approved.

The Illinois General Assembly is scheduled to meet for the fall veto session November 17-19 and December 1-3. 


ICC Requests Telecom Companies to Implement Temporary Disconnection Moratorium Due to Pandemic

Citing increasing unemployment and financial challenges on Illinois residents due to COVID-19, the Executive Director of the Illinois Commerce Commission today asked telecom companies to voluntarily refrain from disconnecting individuals who are low income or self-certify a financial or COVID-19 related hardship through March 31, 2021.

In a letter to telecom companies, ICC Executive Director Christy George said the current unemployment rate in Illinois is 9.8%, more than double the 4.2% unemployment rate in March when the ICC first requested telecom providers to cease disconnections and imposition of late payment penalties.

A copy of the letter is attached.


Applications Open for Round 2 of Connect Illinois Broadband Grants

The window to submit application's for the second round of the Connect Illinois Broadband Grant program opened November 1. Connect Illinois is a $400 million, multi-year grant program with a goal of providing ubiquitous broadband access for homes, businesses, and community anchor institutions. The General Assembly approved funding for the Connect Illinois broadband grant program as part of the capital infrastructure program they approved last year.

As in Round 1, $50 million in state grant awards will be available to broadband providers in Round 2. The Round 2 Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) provides for a $5 million maximum grant, while encouraging broadband providers to submit multiple grant applications. The deadline to submit a grant application is March 1, 2021. All awarded grant project work must be completed by June 30, 2024. The Office of Broadband within the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity oversees the Connect Illinois Broadband Grant program.

Connect Illinois Round 2 Announcement Press Release

Connect Illinois website


USDA To Host Workshop on Community Connect Program

The Illinois Broadband Office will be partnering with the Missouri Department of Economic Development's Office of Broadband Development and the USDA Rural Development team for an upcoming webinar on the USDA Community Connect Grant Program, which is currently accepting applications. This event will be recorded and made available for those who are unable to attend. Eligible applicants for the program include local governments, nonprofits, for-profit corporations, and limited liability companies.

Registration now open

USDA Community Connect Grant – Program Workshop

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

We hope you'll join us for this webinar. To register, click the link below. Please feel free to share with others who may be interested.

Register

The USDA Community Connect Program provides financial assistance in the form of grants to eligible applicants that will provide, on a “community-oriented connectivity” basis, broadband service that fosters economic growth and delivers enhanced educational, health care, and public safety benefits. You may find specific information regarding the program at the website: https://www.rd.usda.gov/community-connect. The application window is currently open and will close December 23, 2020. There have been some changes to this program and this workshop is designed to discuss current changes, available resources and overview of application process.


FCC Establishes a 5G Fund for Rural America

The FCC adopted rules last week creating the 5G Fund for Rural America, which will distribute up to $9 billion over the next decade to bring 5G wireless broadband connectivity to rural America. The 5G Fund will use multi-round reverse auctions in two phases to target support from the Universal Service Fund to eligible areas based upon the improved mobile broadband coverage data gathered in the Commission’s Digital Opportunity Data Collection proceeding. 

Phase I of the 5G Fund will target up to $8 billion of support nationwide to areas lacking unsubsidized 4G LTE or 5G mobile broadband. Phase II will provide at least an additional $1 billion, along with any unawarded funds from Phase I, to specifically target the deployment of technologically innovative 5G networks that facilitate precision agriculture.

The Order also requires 5G Fund winning bidders to deploy networks providing 5G mobile broadband at speeds of a least 35/3 Mbps and meet interim deployment milestones beginning at the three-year mark and a final deployment milestone at the end of the sixth year.  Moreover, starting next year, carriers receiving legacy mobile high cost support must begin spending an increasing portion of their $382 million in support to bring 5G to rural, high cost areas. 


Gigabit Partner Spotlight from Mid-State Consultants

WHAT’S EDGE ROUTING, AND DO I CARE?

Edge routing means just that – data routing capabilities at the edge of the network, or closer to the subscribers.  One of the purposes is to enable quicker responses to simple inputs, like for IoT sensors reporting some little event.  Or, really quick responses to things like automated cars.  We can all see the advantage in something like that.

Another purpose could be to collect and combine a lot of inputs together before sending data all the way to some processing application in the cloud.  Sending info to the cloud is relatively cheap – once you have all the paths set up.  What if you wanted to aggregate info from a lot of inexpensive sources, and then send it altogether to the cloud?  Or, perhaps more invaluably, what if you wanted to treat that data differently based on what it is telling you?  That’s what the cloud does.

That may be the big value of edge routing; extend a little piece of the cloud out into your network.  Thus, edge routing means making the network smarter.  And there can definitely be a value in that, for each piece of this extended cloud provider.  And hopefully that will be why you will care, when your network becomes part of the cloud.  A smarter, routing cloud.

Contact Tom Schultz at (920) 872-2902 to learn more about the full turn-key services available through Mid-State Consultants.


New Associate Member Concentric Joins ITA

Please join us in welcoming Katie Benson and Concentric as a new associate member of the ITA. 


 Broadband & Telecom Headlines

 

Grant will support rural broadband development in Adams County (Herald-Whig)

USDA ReConnect budget to get $150 million boost for rural broadband (telecompetitor)

Election day was hack free, but cybersecurity officials are still bracing for attacks (cnet)

Akamai sees doubling in malicious internet traffic as remote world's bad actors boom, too (CNBC)

SpaceX's Starlink Satellite internet service is priced at $99 per month (telecompetitor)

FCC vote next month could put widespread gigabit Wi-Fi right around the corner (telecompetitor)

 

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