Broadband Progress Report, Reps Want More FCC Map Challenge Time, Ting’s Free Gigabit for ACP

ARPA has helped drive billions to broadband in the two years since it’s passing.

Broadband Progress Report, Reps Want More FCC Map Challenge Time, Ting’s Free Gigabit for ACP
Photo of Ting Internet CEO Elliot Noss from the Denver Business Journal

March 14, 2023 – The White House on Friday celebrated two years since the passing of the American Rescue Plan Act, which it said plowed $25 billion to universal broadband access and helped deliver connectivity to 16 million students under the Emergency Connectivity Fund.

The American Rescue Plan Act tasked the Treasury Department with writing the rules for some key programs, including the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. That program has been distributing $350 billion to local and state governments, who can use it for a variety of purposes including broadband infrastructure and digital inclusion efforts.

The FCC’s ECF is a $7.171 billion program that has helped students stay connected when they are off school or library grounds.

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it will commit another $30 million from the ECF, bringing it closer to exhausted the funds dedicated to the program.

Maryland needs more time to challenge the current FCC broadband map

Senators representing Maryland sent a letter last week to the FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel asking for more time to file challenges to the data underlying the commission’s broadband map.

“On the initial draft, Maryland’s broadband map dataset undercounts underserved and unserved households. The Office of Statewide Broadband found approximately 3,800 addresses incorrectly identified as serviceable by internet service providers compared to the state’s information on unserved locations” according to the letter,” according to the letter.

The broadband map will determine how much money each state will get from the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, which is administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and is expected to be allocated to the states by June 30.

“Inaccurate data will result in unfair funding allocations,” the letter added.

The letter comes after calls to extend the January 13 deadline for the initial challenge window were denied.

Meanwhile FCC has been investigating service providers who may have been overreporting data for its broadband map.

Ting providing gigabit internet for qualifying residents in Alexandria, VA

Internet Service Provider Ting Internet announced Tuesday that it is ready to deliver fiber internet in some Alexandria, Virginia, areas and will provide gigabit internet for free for those who qualify for the Federal Communications Commission Affordable Connectivity Program.

The fiber service rollout is happening gradually, Ting said in a press release, with full access to all residents expected by 2025.

Residents who qualify for the FCC’s ACP – which provides $30 and $75 per month subsidies to certain low-income and Americans living on tribal lands – will receive the symmetrical gigabit speeds for free. As part of an agreement with the city, the free internet will be provided to 4,000 affordable housing units, local nonprofit organizations, parks and farmers markets.

Residents who qualify for the ACP will also receive a router rental and can purchase a $100 Lenovo tablet for a one-time cost of $20 plus tax.

“We believe in making the Internet better, and that means improving Internet access and Internet choice for the communities in which we operate,” said Elliot Noss, CEO of Tucows and Ting Internet. “Offering symmetrical gigabit fiber to the home at no cost for those who qualify for the ACP can make a real tangible difference, and this is just the beginning.”

On Friday, the FCC announced a $66 million allocation for two of its four ACP outreach programs to help spread the word about the $14.2 billion program.

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