Domestic Abuse Order, Alternatives to BEAD Letter of Credit Requirement, Power Grid Funding

FCC to vote on order aimed at helping domestic abuse survivors maintain phone line.

Domestic Abuse Order, Alternatives to BEAD Letter of Credit Requirement, Power Grid Funding
FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel by Internet Education Foundation State of the Net from 2018 used with permission

October 23, 2023 – The head of the Federal Communications Commission is preparing to announce a proposed order aimed at helping domestic abuse survivors maintain connectivity when their phone lines are tied to their abuser.

The rules proposed in the order would require providers to separate phone lines where abusers are linked on family accounts, block records of calls to domestic abuse and violence resource hotlines, and use the commission’s Lifeline program to financially support survivors connectivity.

The proposal was initially approved by the commission in February.

“These efforts are a critical step in ensuring that survivors stay connected to their support systems and loved ones and I’m proud to have made this work a priority for the agency,” Jessica Rosenworcel said at a National Conference on Domestic Violence on Sunday.

The order will be presented and voted on for adoption at the commission’s public open meeting on November 15th.

The proposed order would work to implement aspects of the Safe Connections Act of 2022, which is a piece of legislation that seeks to use communication services to protect domestic abuse survivors.

Broadband providers offer alternatives to BEAD credit letter

A coalition of broadband providers including Altafiber, Altice and Brightspeed suggested alternatives Wednesday to the letter of credit requirement for projects funded by the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment Program.

The providers sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo Wednesday recommending alternatives such as reducing the required credit amount to 5 percent of the total grant amount, having providers obtain credit letters once funding is approved as opposed to during the application process, or retiring the credit letter requirement if applicants certify grant compliance.

Currently the $42.5 billion BEAD program requires a letter of credit demonstrating that applicants are able to finance 25 percent of the project outlined in their proposal.

But there has been concern that the current requirement would lock smaller providers’ out of much needed funds.

The letter mentioned other industry arguments which have advised the use of bonds, parent guarantees or certifications of good standing as ways to back deployment projects

BEAD director Evan Feinman has stated that program administrator, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, is working to change the letter of credit requirement, however no change has been administered.

Biden announces $3.46 billion in power grid investment

The Joe Biden administration announced Wednesday a $3.46-billion investment in improving the strength of the electric energy grid across the country.

The investment is expected to help 58 projects spanning 44 states and is part of the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnership program, which funds projects that modernize the electric grid and make it more durable in extreme weather climates amid worsening climate change, a press release said.

Several projects that have received funding are looking to improve smart grid infrastructure, which requires the use of digital technology to “monitor and manage the transport of electricity from all generation sources to meet the varying electricity demands of end users,” according to the International Energy Agency.

Oftentimes fiber networks are used to aid in this, while improving communication efficiency as highlighted by industry experts. That kind of efficiency is a goal highlighted by Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, whose GRIP project plans to use fiber networks to transmit grid data.