December 13, 2022 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has officially launched the comment period for its $1.5 billion Innovation fund, which is intended to invest in developing alternative wireless equipment, according to a request for comment notice.
The $1.5 billion fund from the $280 billion Chips and Science Act will go toward domestic alternatives to current wireless equipment, the bulk of which is supplied by foreign companies including Finland’s Nokia, Sweden’s Ericsson, and China’s Huawei. The NTIA is accepting comments on this issue until January 27, 2023.
“NTIA seeks broad input and feedback from all interested stakeholders— including private industry, academia, civil society, and other experts—on this grant program to support the promotion and deployment of open, interoperable, and standards-based radio access networks (RAN)”, the notice read.
Inquiries by the NTIA includes the current “state” of the telecommunications industry, technology development, integration and certification of radio access networks, supply chain security, questions on trials, pilot programs and telecom market development, program execution and monitoring supported by the Innovation fund, according to the notice.
Last week, the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada signed onto a commitment to “ensuring the security and resilience of our telecommunications networks, including by fostering a diverse supply chain and influencing the development of future telecommunications technologies such as 6G.
“Collectively, we recognise that open and interoperable architectures are one way of creating a more open, diverse and innovative market,” the statement said.
Anchor institutions want FCC maps to include low-income apartment units
Over 100 organizations including EducationSuperHighway and the Schools, Health, and Library Broadband Coalition are urging the Federal Communications Commission to incorporate a mapping challenge process for apartment building in low-income areas.
The organizations said in a letter to the commission on Tuesday that low-income families in apartment buildings that serve just one unit with certain broadband speeds are excluded from the “unserved” categorization in the commission’s preliminary broadband map. But the organizations say that does not reflect the reality for low-income families in other units of those buildings.
As such, the organizations are asking that the FCC develop a mapping data challenge process for apartment buildings, including “locations in which the percentage of individuals with a household income that is at or below 150 percent of the poverty line” and “locations that have a substantial share of unserved households.”
The organizations also said the burden is unreasonable for such individuals in these apartment buildings to submit their own challenges to the mapping data.
“To ensure all MDUs are accurately designated, we request that the FCC shift the burden of proof from unconnected consumers to the ISPs, by pausing the current challenge process and creating a new challenge process that automatically designates MDUs, which fit the above criteria, as unconnected and establish a process in which ISPs are required to submit challenges.
SHLB has said previously that the current iteration of the FCC maps skips over community anchor institutions because the commission has presumed, without warrant, that these institutions subscribe largely to non-mass-market internet services.
Public Knowledge wants clarity that wireless services included in digital discrimination probe
Internet advocacy group Public Knowledge is recommending the FCC include mobile wireless services in the agency’s review of digital discrimination by telecommunications companies, according to a Monday letter to the commission.
The draft proposal by the FCC “appears to suggest that the definition of “broadband internet access service” covered by proposed rules does not apply to mobile broadband,” Public Knowledge said in the letter, which includes a graph that says the FCC proposes to limit its focus on BIAS.
“Because of the importance of prohibiting discrimination in access to mobile services, the Commission should clarify” that BIAS includes both fixed and mobile services, the letter said.
Digital Discrimination will be on the agency’s agenda for its open meeting on December 21. The NPRM will be released on this day and as the agency seeks comment, the goal is to create new rules that are aligned with the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act provisions on digital discrimination.