The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) seeks comment on the implementation of the Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund, which will direct $3.2 billion to the FCC to fund discounts for broadband service and certain connected devices for eligible households during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund will reimburse participating providers for discounting qualifying households for certain broadband services and connected devices. The fund was established through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which was signed into law on December 27, 2020. To participate in the program, a provider must elect to participate and either be designated as an ETC or be approved by the Commission. The discount for eligible households off the standard rate for an Internet service offering will be up to $50 per month while that same discount will be up to $75 for eligible households on Tribal lands.
The Commission seeks comment on the various provisions of this program including: (1) the eligibility and election process for participating providers; (2) the processing of applications seeking automatic approval in one or more states; (3) the verification of eligibility for households; (4) the connected devices that are eligible for reimbursement; (5) whether a participating provider should be required to submit additional documentation to receive reimbursement for connected devices; and much more. Comments on the implementation of this program are due January 25, 2021, while reply comments are due February 16, 2021.