On January 25, NDIA submitted comments in response to the FCC’s public notice on the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) which is a result of the recent Consolidated Appropriations Act 2020. Along with thirty six signatories, we wrote our comments focus on:
- The FCC and USAC should implement the EBB program with maximum public transparency with respect to providers’ offerings, participation data, and operational issues.
- We support placing the administration of the EBB fully within USAC. Still, USAC must aggressively step up to this role — assuming primary responsibility for the overall marketing of the EBB and offering program participants and community stakeholders easy access to a robust ombudsman resource.
- The FCC and USAC should make every effort to engage experienced digital inclusion practitioners as partners in program design, marketing and troubleshooting; and to encourage provider and third-party support for EBB education and enlistment efforts led by competent, trusted community leadership.
- In creating its process for qualifying EBB providers, the FCC must recognize the growing role of nonprofit, mission-driven affordable networks in many communities, as well as innovative arrangements that community bodies such as school boards and housing authorities have made with a variety of providers to ensure broadband access for their students, unemployed residents and others during the pandemic.
- The EBB should offer participating households the greatest degree of choice among internet services and plans that is possible within the law’s requirements.
This broadband benefit comes at a time of great need for many as families rely on internet service more so than ever before. As a $3.2 billion program EBB strikes at the heart of the digital divide – broadband affordability. Given the lack of affordable internet service, NDIA advocated for this household broadband subsidy and will continue to advocate for a permanent broadband benefit. With our affiliates on the frontlines of the digital divide, EBB will be a significant tool in their work towards digital equity.
For more information on the Emergency Broadband Benefit, see our written overview and webinar recording.