Telecom Alert:911 Resource Bill Introduced; $20M in Broadband Funding; Community Broadband Act; Foreign Ownership Enforcement Advisory; Defend Our Networks Act [Vol. XX, Issue 17]
911 Resource Bill Introduced in House
Reps. Robin Kelly (D-IL) Norma Torres (D-CA), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) reintroduced the Providing Resources and Occupational Training for Emotional Crisis and Trauma (PROTECT) 911 Act (“Protect 911 Act” or the “Act”) to address health and wellness issues for 911 call-takers and dispatchers. The Act would develop best practices for identifying, preventing, and treating posttraumatic stress disorder in public safety telecommunicators and establish grants for health and wellness programs in emergency communications centers. It would also establish resources to assist mental health professionals in treating emergency personnel. For more information, please contact Wes Wright (email@example.com; 202.434.4239).
$20 Million in Broadband Technical Assistance Funding
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the availability of $20 million to deliver broadband technical assistance resources for rural communities. The USDA’s Broadband Technical Assistance Program provides funding for technical assistance projects such as conducting feasibility studies, completing networks designs, and developing broadband financial assistance applications. Applicants should consider projects that help rural communities recover economically through improved infrastructure, ensure residents have equitable access to USDA Rural Development programs and benefits, and reduce climate pollution and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change. For more information, please contact Casey Lide (firstname.lastname@example.org; 202.434.4186).
Community Broadband Act Introduced
Last week, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Community Broadband Act which would preempt state laws that prohibit and restrict public entities, public-private partnerships, or cooperatively organized entities from participating in broadband initiatives. The bill targets twenty-one states that have passed laws restricting or preventing community broadband. For more information, please contact Sean Stokes (email@example.com; 202.434.4193) or Jim Baller (firstname.lastname@example.org; 202.434.4175).
Foreign Ownership Enforcement Advisory
The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued an Enforcement Advisory last week to remind regulated entities of the Commission’s rules requiring prior consent for assignments and transfers of control, and to remind entities that FCC consent is required prior to other changes in ownership that would result in reportable new foreign interest holders or reportable increases in existing foreign ownership stakes. Entities that hold wireless, common carrier, broadcast licenses, and other FCC authorizations such as international section 214 authority must receive approval from the Commission before assigning or transferring control of licenses or authorizations. In recent years, the FCC has entered into Consent Decrees with companies that failed to obtain approval prior to exceeding the FCC’s statutory foreign ownership benchmarks, of one which included a $1.1 million settlement and three-year compliance plan. For more information, please contact Tim Doughty (email@example.com; 202.434.4271).
Defend Our Networks Act Introduced
Last week Senators Deb Fischer (R-NE) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) introduced the Defend Our Networks Act, which further supports the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program (the “Program”). The Program reimburses eligible telecommunications carriers for removing and replacing equipment deemed to pose an unacceptable risk to national security. Last year, the FCC confirmed that the program was $3.08 billion short in fulfilling eligible applications. This bill would use a portion of unobligated emergency COVID-relief funds to address budget shortfalls in the Program. For more information, please contact Greg Kunkle (firstname.lastname@example.org; 202.434.4178).
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