Enacted on December 27, 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (“Act”) establishes or re-appropriates a number of significant broadband-related support programs. Reflecting the urgency of the COVID-19 situation, the Act calls for unusually prompt implementation by the administering agencies. For example, solicitations of applications for the Broadband Infrastructure Deployment Grants and Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grants must be issued by the Department of Commerce within 60 days of the Act’s enactment.
While the details of participation are generally not yet known, interested broadband service providers—and potential partners—should take steps immediately to explore how to make the most of one or more of these opportunities, including how to structure a potential project and present a compelling case for funding, or how to qualify for a program and verify eligible customers.
The various programs are listed below. For a more in-depth analysis of each program, please see our recent publication.
- Broadband Infrastructure Deployment Grants (NTIA): $300 million grant program for broadband projects by “covered partnerships” in eligible service areas. The term “covered partnership” is defined to mean (a) a State or one or more political subdivisions, and (b) a provider of fixed broadband service.
- Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grants (NTIA): $1 billion grant program for broadband infrastructure deployment, broadband affordability programs, distance learning, telehealth, and broadband adoption activities on Tribal land.
- Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (FCC): $3.2 billion for an Emergency Broadband Benefit Program providing a reimbursement subsidy for the provision of broadband service and associated equipment to qualified households in the form of a monthly discount not to exceed $50 ($75 for an eligible household on Tribal land).
- Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program(NTIA): $285 million for grants to minority institutions, organizations, and consortia to support broadband development and adoption.
- COVID-19 Telehealth Program(FCC): An additional $250 million to the existing FCC Telehealth Program.
- Amendments to Secure and Trusted Networks ReimbursementProgram (“Rip and Replace”): $1.9 billion allocated to fully fund the program. Adopted various amendments relating to reimbursement for providers obligated to remove and replace covered communications equipment.
For more information, please contact Casey Lide, firstname.lastname@example.org.