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:

  1. The FCC and USAC should implement the EBB program with maximum public transparency with respect to providers’ offerings, participation data, and operational issues.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.