The Emergency Broadband Benefit is an FCC program to help households struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic. This new benefit will connect eligible households to jobs, critical healthcare services, and virtual classrooms.
Check out the Broadband Benefit Consumer FAQ for more information about the benefit and please continue to check this page for program updates.
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Broadband Legislation Tracking:
- SB 4 (Gonzalez, D- Long Beach) extends and updates the funding for CASF, promotes deployment of high-speed broadband, explores ways to facilitate streamlining of local land use approvals and construction permit processes for projects related to broadband infrastructure deployment and connectivity, and creates the Broadband Bond Financing Securitization Account to fund costs related to broadband bond financing and securities, including the deployment of infrastructure by local governments or nonprofits.
- AB 14 (Aguiar-Curry, D-Winters) extends the ongoing surcharge for the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF), specifies the allocation of the funding, allows the PUC to seek bond funding, and broadens the eligible uses of the California Advanced Services Fund to include local governments and tribes.
- SB 28 (Caballero, D-Salinas) would require the Department of Technology, in collaboration with other state agencies, to compile an inventory of state-owned resources that may be available for use in the deployment of broadband networks in rural, unserved, and underserved communities and collaborate on standardized agreements to enable those state-owned resources to be leased or licensed for that purpose. It would also give the CPUC and local governments the authority to review compliance by certain licensees for actual deployment and quality of service.
- AB 34 (Muratsuchi, D-Torrance) would place a general obligation bond measure of up to $10 billion on the November 2022 ballot to fund increased access to broadband services to rural, urban, suburban, and tribal unserved and underserved communities, that would be administered by the Department of Technology.
- AB 41 (Wood, D-Santa Rosa) would update California’s “dig once” policy for CalTrans to help expedite the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities and includes a provision for more transparency on the part of providers about planned deployment.
FCC Broadband Programs
- $98 million to implement the Broadband DATA Act to improve broadband mapping accuracy and accountability.
- $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund to establish an Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, under which eligible households may receive a discount off the cost of broadband service (up to $50 monthly benefit per eligible household and up to $75 on tribal lands).
- $250 million for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program.
- $1.9 billion to “Rip and Replace” certain unsecure equipment as directed by recent FCC regulations.
U.S. Department OF Education was appropriated $82 billion for continuation of CARES Act programs, allocated as follows:
- $4.1 billion for Governors Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund.
- $54.3 billion for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. Colorado’s ESSER II allocation is $519 million. While this is a continuation of the CARES Act program, there are slight differences between ESSER and ESSER II.
- $22.7 billion for Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund.
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA)
President Biden has signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R 1319, “Act”) into law.
The key broadband-related provisions in the bill include the following:
- Emergency Connectivity Fund
o The $1.9 trillion package includes $7.17 billion for an Emergency Connectivity Fund to enable remote learning and to extend broadband connectivity to students in their homes, for which the FCC is to issue rules within 60 days of the Act’s enactment.
- Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund
o Section 604 appropriates $10 billion to a Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund that will be through U.S. Treasury Department. It will likely be administered like the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund with $100 million to each state. Broadband capital projects can be funded.
NTIA Broadband Programs
- $300 million to implement a broadband infrastructure deployment grant program benefiting rural areas, prioritizing applications delivering 100/20 Mbps or better broadband service in areas without access to 25/3 Mbps broadband service.
- $285 million to create the Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives at the NTIA, focusing on access and adoption for minority communities.
- $1 billion to expand access and adoption of broadband on tribal lands.
[NTIA has 45 days to stand up programs and issue Notices of Funding Availability (NOFAs).