The FCC has announced that non-eligible telecommunications carriers (non-ETCs), which includes cable broadband providers, will have a two-week window to apply to the Wireline Competition Bureau, be approved for access to some of the $3.2 billion in Emergency Broadband Benefit money being allocated as consumer broadband service and equipment subsidies by Congress as part of a December COVID-19 aid package.
The FCC said that the window for non-ETCs opens March 8 and closes March 22.
ETCs and their affiliates, which are already approved participants in the FCC's Lifeline Universal Service Fund low-income broadband subsidy program, on which the EBB is based, only have to file the appropriate information with the Universal Service Administrative Co., which oversees Lifeline, beginning March 11.
The commission is under a congressional mandate to get the money out ASAP. It takes the form of a $50 per month subsidy to consumers to use on home broadband and a $100, one-time, subsidy for devices.
The FCC has yet to announce when the EBB program will begin or when providers whose applications are approved can begin enrolling households in the program so their residents can get the subsidy, but it expects the program to launch within 60 days of the adoption last week of its EBB Program Order, so, by the end of April.
Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.
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