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FCC Chair Floats Deadline Extension for Rip and Replace Applicants In Light of Funding Shortfall

Rosenworcel said the FCC has the authority to extend removal deadline by six months.



Photo of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2023 – The head of the Federal Communications Commission told members of Congress this month that the regulator has the authority to extend the time for carriers to replace problematic Chinese equipment from their networks in light of a lack of additional funding from the legislature.

For a while now, the commission has complained of a $3-billion shortfall in the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program, which seeks to reimburse carriers forced by the government to remove equipment deemed a national security threat. Requests from applicants, which were approved last July, far exceed what’s available from the $1.9-billion fund, the FCC has said.

In a letter to members of Congress dated May 3, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said approved applicants are up against a tight Congress-imposed timeline to remove the equipment despite the funding shortfall and must file their first reimbursement applications this July. Carriers have one year from the initial reimbursement to complete removal work.

“With July 15, 2023 now less than three months away, the lack of an additional appropriation means that the Commission will need to plan to proceed with the…funding process,” Rosenworcel said in the letter. “However, the Act does permit the Commission to grant a six-month extension of the removal, replacement, and disposal deadline for all recipients if the agency determines that the supply of needed equipment and services is inadequate to accomplish the Reimbursement Program’s goals.

“The Commission also has authority under the Act to grant individual extensions to qualified recipients that fail to meet the deadline ‘due to no fault of such recipient,’” she added.

Rosenworcel said 52 of the 126 reimbursement requests have been filed of the approved applications, with 38 of those being approved for reimbursement. Those approved applications have between late September 2023 and April 2024 to remove the equipment from Huawei and ZTE.

Last month, wireless service provider SI Wireless complained that reimbursement payments were coming too slow for it to complete its replacement work.

“Deadlines to complete removal and replacement will continue to be set on an application-specific basis as additional reimbursement requests are submitted and approved,” Rosenworcel said.

“Some recipients may not begin actually removing this equipment until additional funding is appropriated,” Rosenworcel said. “In light of this, and the need to ensure that our Nation’s communications networks are free of this vulnerable and insecure equipment, the Commission stands ready to assist Congress in any efforts to fully fund the Reimbursement Program.”

The letter was addressed to Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, Senator Bill Hagerty, R-Tennessee, and Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Washington, Steve Womack, R-Arkansas, Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, and Rep. Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey.

The three priority tiers include applicants who serve two million and fewer customers, which makes up the bulk of funding requests; public or private non-commercial educational institutions, of which there are no approved applicants; and one applicant serving between two and 10 million customers, the chairwoman said. Rosenworcel added the latter will not receive funding support because of the money constraints.

Senators last month introduced a bill, called the Defend Our Networks Act, to top up the “rip and replace” fund. That came after Senator Mark Warner, D-Virginia, said he would push Congress to make the funding shortfall a priority.

In January, the FCC said in a report that nearly half of respondents required to submit status reports on their replacement efforts complained about a lack of funding.

Industry associations, including the Competitive Carriers Association and the Rural Wireless Association, have raised the issue to the FCC for months. The fact that the omnibus spending bill didn’t include rip and replace funding apparently “stunned” the Telecommunications Industry Association.

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Sen. Ted Cruz Warns of Potential Waste in BEAD Allocations

The conservative critic of the broadband program highlighted inaccurate FCC mapping data in a report.



Photo of Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Gage Skidmore

WASHINGTON, September 15, 2023 – Senate Commerce ranking member Ted Cruz, R-Texas, warned in a report on Friday of potential waste in Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment funds.

Part of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act, the program allocated over $42 billion for expanding broadband infrastructure in areas with poor internet access. That funding was awarded to states in June based on the number of those areas listed in the Federal Communication Commission’s National Broadband Map.

The 20-page report from Cruz’s office highlights how it believes the map is inaccurate, and claims that it disproportionately benefited states with fewer unserved areas – those with no meaningful internet access – than the map shows. It points to Washington, D.C., where the FCC’s map shows a third of the district’s unserved areas within the National Zoo, and notes the high allocation per unserved map location.

D.C. received fewer BEAD funds than any state – just over the minimum benchmark of $100 million set out in the program – but its small size and dense population gave it over $540,000 per location, opposed to the national median of $5,600.

The broadband map is also considered by some state broadband offices to be inaccurate. The commission has released an updated version since the allocation of BEAD funds based on challenges to its coverage data and is requiring states to accept local challenges before awarding any grants with BEAD funds.

Cruz also noted in the report that some areas slated to be served by other federal funding programs are marked as unserved in the FCC map. Funds under the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, Capital Projects Fund, and ReConnect Program have been awarded for providers to build infrastructure in areas that are still currently unserved, meaning BEAD funds were allocated based in part on areas that will receive broadband anyway.

The report calculated 85,000 of the 3 million unserved areas slated to be served by BEAD will already have been given service by another federal program.

The report also criticized BEAD’s preference for fiber infrastructure, saying alternative means of providing internet like satellite and fixed wireless could serve hard-to-reach areas for less money.

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Broadband Breakfast Webcast of BEAD Implementation Summit Available for $35

Space is extremely limited for the in-person event; Zoom in instead with the Broadband Breakfast community.



WASHINGTON, September 11, 2023 – The Broadband Breakfast community is pleased to announced that those outside of Washington will be able to participate remotely in the BEAD Implementation Summit on Thursday, September 21, via a live webcast.

Participation in the webcast, via a live Zoom webcast, is available for $35. Breakfast and lunch are not included in the live webcast.

However, both in person and live online registrants for the BEAD Implementation Summit will obtain access to the complete videos of the BEAD Implementation Summit, a pathbreaking event tapping into the energy surrounding the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program.

As state broadband offices work to prepare their five-year plans for the BEAD program, this timely event will discuss the challenges, controversies and solutions surrounding this historic push for universal high-speed connectivity.

Evan Feinman, deputy associate administrator for the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, will be the keynote speaker at Summit.

The event, hosted by the Broadband Breakfast community and featuring an in-person and online streaming component, will feature four panels on the most relevant and topical issues regarding BEAD Implementation. Among the panelists who have confirmed include state broadband leaders like North Carolina’s Angie Bailey, New Jersey’s Valarry Bullard, Arkansas’ Glenn Howie, Virginia’s Dr. Tamarah Holmes, Maine’s Andrew Butcher and Illinois’ Matt Schmit.

New panelists and keynote speakers are being added frequently to the program.

The complete program – including both in-person and online registration options – is available at the BEAD Implementation Summit. In-person event registration is available for $245.

“The BEAD Implementation Summit will drill into the particulars of BEAD implementation as states are looking at the largest-to-date federal investment in high-speed internet infrastructure, said Drew Clark, editor and publisher of Broadband Breakfast. 

The event will take place at Clyde’s of Gallery Place at 707 7th Street NW, Washington. 

Register now to hear what federal and state government officials, plus industry and non-profit groups, have to say about the next steps in this historic broadband funding. In addition to discounts on events and access to premium videos, Broadband Breakfast Club members have access to comprehensive monthly exclusive reports that delve into key topics pertaining to Better Broadband, Better Lives.  

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Treasury Approves $167 Million for Oklahoma Broadband Expansion

The state plans to serve 20,000 locations with 100 * 100 Mbps broadband.



Photo of Wally Adeyemo, deputy secretary of the treasury

WASHINGTON, September 8, 2023 – The Treasury Department approved on Friday over $167 million for broadband infrastructure in Oklahoma.

The money will fund the Oklahoma Broadband Infrastructure Grants Program, a state effort to subsidize broadband projects in areas that are expensive to serve because of low population density or geographic obstacles.

The state estimates that 20,000 locations will be served with OBIG-funded projects, about 13 percent of the areas lacking broadband in the state. 

Projects supported by the fund will be required to deliver speeds of 100 Mbps upload and download. That’s faster than the FCC’s broadband benchmark of 25/3 Mbps.

The money comes from the $10 billion Capital Projects Fund, established with the American Rescue Plan Act in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The fund provides money for projects that enable work, education, and health monitoring.

More than $8 billion in CPF funds have now been awarded. Many states, territories, and tribal governments are using the money to finance broadband development projects.

Some state officials say the CPF is better suited to reach high cost areas because of its “sliding scale” model. States can provide matching funds for up to 95% of project costs with CPF money, compared to 7% under the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program.

Providers that build CPF-funded projects are required to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program, a monthly internet subsidy for low-income households. It provides $30 a month to most recipients and $75 per month to residents of Tribal lands.

The $14 billion ACP is set to dry up in 2024. It is unclear whether Congress will renew it.

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