NTIA Maintains June 30 BEAD Target, T-Mobile Breach, FCC Allocates $40M from ECF

FCC received over 1 million challenges to mapping data and added 1 million locations.

NTIA Maintains June 30 BEAD Target, T-Mobile Breach, FCC Allocates $40M from ECF
Screenshot of NTIA head Alan Davidson

January 23, 2023 – The National Telecommunications and Information Administration said in a bulletin earlier this month that it continues to target June 30 for the allocation of broadband program funds, after some states requested that it not delay the date in the face of others who urged it to do so.

The Federal Communications Commission had set a deadline of January 13 for challenges to data that underpins its broadband map, which will determine where money from the NTIA’s $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program will go. But in the days before the deadline, a letter signed by local governments and organizations in at least 19 states and Washington D.C. asked that the challenge deadline and the NTIA allocation dates be pushed back due to a lack of resources to adequately challenge the map.

“We have heard concerns from some states and other stakeholders, and we have received requests to delay the timeline to give states more time to participate in the FCC’s processes for challenging and improving the National Broadband Map,” the NTIA said in the bulletin on January 13. “Several other states have expressed to us that they want us to maintain this target so that they can begin developing quality plans and begin their subgrant programs as soon as possible.”

The NTIA noted that it has been holding weekly office hours, has held one-on-one sessions with “dozens of states and territories” throughout the process, and engaged with more than a dozen grassroots advocacy organizations to inform them about submitting challenges.

It said the FCC has received over one million challenges to provider reported availability data and has updated the map’s data to add more than one million locations. “Through this work, the map is becoming more accurate and will continue to get incrementally better,” the bulletin said.

“Unfortunately, a delay in the timeline would mean a delay in providing funding to communities who desperately need it, and it will not address many of the process concerns we have heard,” the Commerce Department agency said. “Every day we delay is another day that communities are not connected. We feel the urgency to getting this funding out the door so it can be put to work for everyone in America.

T-Mobile says information tied to 37 million customer accounts taken in breach

Wireless carrier T-Mobile announced Thursday that information associated with 37 million customer accounts was obtained by “bad actor” using a software program.

The company said in a regulatory filing that it began an investigation after the company identified the breach on January 5, managing to shut it down within 24 hours of identifying the issue.

On Thursday, the company said it concluded the investigation and found that a single software program was used to access the basic information of customer accounts, including name, billing address, email, phone number, date of birth, account number and information like the number of lines on the account and service plan features.

“Our systems and policies prevented the most sensitive types of customer information from being accessed, and as a result, customer accounts and finances should not be put at risk directly by this event,” the company said in a press release, adding no passwords, financial and payment information, social security numbers and government ID numbers were compromised.

“There is also no evidence that the bad actor breached or compromised T-Mobile’s network or systems,” the release added.

“While we, like any other company, are unfortunately not immune to this type of criminal activity, we plan to continue to make substantial, multi-year investments in strengthening our cybersecurity program,” the release said.

The company had already come off a breach that impacted millions of customers in 2021, from which it settled a class action lawsuit for $350 million.

The news also comes after the Federal Communications Commission earlier this month proposed to change breach reporting requirements for telecommunications companies, including expanding definitions for what to disclose and shrinking timelines on when notifications need to be made.

FCC approves another $40M from Emergency Connectivity Fund

The Federal Communications Commission announced Thursday that another $40 million has been committed from the Emergency Connectivity Fund, a program intended to keep students connected outside of school.

The latest round will support approximately 100,000 students from 275 schools, 15 libraries and five consortia in states including Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Washington and Wisconsin.

The latest funding commitment brings the commission one step closer to completely allocating money available to the fund. It said it has allocated $6.5 billion out of the $7.1 billion available.

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