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Telecom Alert: Broadband Data Collection Early Access; ACP Pleading Cycle; 911 Fee Diversion Ex Parte; Offshore Spectrum NOI; Rural Broadband Funding [Vol. XIX, Issue 26]

Broadband Data Task Force Grants Early Access to BDC System

Last week, the Broadband Data Task Force (“Task Force”) announced that fixed and mobile broadband providers, as well as other filers of broadband availability data, will be able to obtain early access to the Broadband Data Collection (“BDC”) system before the June 30 filing window opens (Vol. XIX, Issue 25).  This will allow users to familiarize themselves with the BDC system and enter identifying entity information in advance of the filing period.  Beginning June 30, facilities-based service providers with one or more service connections are required to file data in the BDC system showing where they make mass market internet access service available.  For more information, please contact Sean Stokes (stokes@khlaw.com; 202.434.4193) or Kathleen Slattery-Thompson (slattery@khlaw.com; 202.434.4244).

Affordable Connectivity Program Pleading Cycle

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on the statutorily mandated data collection related to the Affordable Connectivity Program was published in the Federal Register last week.  Specifically, the Commission seeks comment on the types of price and subscription rate information that should be included in its data collection, as well as other service plan characteristics.  Comments and reply comments are due by July 25 and August 8, respectively.  For more information, please contact Casey Lide (lide@khlaw.com; 202.434.4186).

911 Fee Diversion Ex Parte

On June 20, the local Illinois chapters of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (“IL-APCO”) and the National Emergency Number Association (“IL-NENA”) submitted an ex parte letter to the FCC requesting clarification on whether the transfer of surcharge funds from a 911 fund to a 988 fund constitutes a diversion of 911 fees.  In 2021, the FCC adopted a Report and Order to address 911 fee diversion and promulgate rules pursuant to its authority under Section 902 of the Don’t Break Up the T-Band Act of 2020 (“Act”) (Vol. XVIII, Issue 26).  In passing the Act, Congress sought to restrict or eliminate the diversion of 911 fees for purposes other than the support of 911 systems.  The letter seeks guidance from the FCC as to whether Illinois could be disqualified from receiving Next Generation 911 grant funding if it uses 911 fees to fund its 988 system.  For more information, please contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; 202.434.4239).

Offshore Spectrum NOI Pleading Cycle

The FCC’s Notice of Inquiry seeking comment on whether changes should be made to the Commission’s rules to facilitate development of commercial and private wireless networks offshore was published in the Federal Register on June 27 (Vol. XIX, Issue 21).  The Commission seeks comment on potential spectrum rights models and assignment mechanisms for initial licensing of offshore operations, as well as which individual bands could best support these operations.  Comments and reply comments are due by July 27 and August 26, respectively.  For more information, please contact Tim Doughty (doughty@khlaw.com; 202.434.4271).

Rural Broadband Funding Approved

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2023 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies bill, which includes more than $560 million for rural broadband programs. This includes $450 million for the Rural Utilities Service’s ReConnect program and $60 million in grants for telemedicine and distance learning services in rural areas.  For more information, please contact Jim Baller (baller@khlaw.com; 202.434.4175) or Sean Stokes (stokes@khlaw.com; 202.434.4344).