Skip to main content

NCTA: Broadband Pledgers Should Qualify for Emergency Funds

(Image credit: NCTA)

The new FCC is getting a lot of help as it prepares to hand out $3.2 billion in Emergency Broadband Program (EBB) aid Congress appropriated as part of its COVID-19 relief package. 

Also Read: Verizon Proposes Government-Funded Broadband Debit Cards

For its part, NCTA-the Internet & Television Association said that the money should be available to as wide a pool of consumers as possible by making sure that all providers have an equal shot at the money and by minimizing administrative and implementation "burdens."

One way that can happen, they said, is by essentially pre-approving the vast majority of NCTA members who took the FCC's Keep Americans Connected pledge via their own existing low-income programs or launching new ones.

NCTA argues that for the new EBB program, the FCC should grant, immediately upon filing, "automatic approval of an application for participation by a broadband provider with a pre-existing program" under the presumption that its verification process "qualifies as sufficient to avoid waste, fraud, and abuse," which the FCC can review under objective standards to make sure that is the case.

ISPs without such programs should be deemed eligible for the funds if they have provided broadband service for at least two years.

Also Read: Verizon Proposes Government-Funded Broadband Debit Cards

NCTA also wants flexibility in determining how to make the broadband benefits available, which means more than just a baseline service and doesn't want the FCC to mandate any particular form of outreach. 

And while NCTA generally supports the FCC proposed application process, it has a tweak. Rather than accept applications on a rolling basis as the FCC proposed, it wants the FCC to create a single submission window to make sure that eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) and non-ETCS have the same shot at the money. After that initial window, NCTA said, the FCC could consider further applications on a rolling basis.

To check out more of NCTA's comments, go here.

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.