Iowa Governor Touts Report Highlighting K-12 Broadband Access
In a press release, Governor Reynolds announced that Iowa’s classrooms are more connected today than ever before. 100% of K-12 students in Iowa now have access to high-speed broadband on par with the Federal Communications Commission’s minimum goal of 100 kbps per student, opening the door to expanded opportunities for teaching and learning in Iowa’s classrooms. Iowa schools are also making significant progress toward the FCC’s long-term bandwidth goal of 1 Mbps per student.
“Connectivity to broadband Internet is no longer a luxury, but an essential component to a child’s education,” said Governor Reynolds. “Bringing every classroom into the 21st century will allow students to take full advantage of the digital learning happening right now. While Iowa is closing the digital divide, we know there’s more to do to expand connectivity in every corner of our state.”
A newly released report from national non-profit EducationSuperHighway highlights the status of broadband connectivity in the nation’s K-12 public schools. The report found that Iowa upgraded 81 percent of its schools to scalable fiber connections since 2016, which enable schools to keep up with growing bandwidth demand needed for digital innovation in K-12 classrooms.
The Regulatory Mix Today: Iowa Governor Touts Report Highlighting K-12 Broadband Access, FCC Denies Request to Postpone NLEV, USDA South Carolina Broadband Grant
FCC Denies Request to Postpone National Lifeline Verifier Launch
The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau has denied petitions seeking to postpone the scheduled full launch for the National Lifeline Eligibility Verifier (National Verifier) in NY, VT, GA, CT, and NE until the National Verifier has established an automated connection with a state eligibility database.. The petitions were filed by the New York State Public Service Commission, the State of Vermont, the Georgia Public Service Commission, the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, and the Nebraska Public Service Commission. The Bureau found that the state commissions had failed to show good cause for the requested delay. Among other things, Order notes that the petitioners are asking the FCC “to solve a problem they have themselves largely created” by failing to work with USAC to establish the automated connections.
The Bureau concluded that, contrary to the arguments raised by the states, the National Verifier is able to promptly review and process Lifeline applications in states where it has launched even without automated connections to state eligibility databases because of the connections to the federal eligibility data, as well as the eligibility document review process. Thus, launching the National Verifier in a state without a connection to a state database will not deprive eligible consumers of Lifeline services. Moreover, the National Verifier uses several other effective methods to enroll a consumer even when that consumer’s eligibility cannot be determined via an automated connection to a database. As such, delaying the launch in these states would also undermine the Commission’s directive in its 2016 Order setting forth key objectives it sought to achieve in establishing the National Verifier.
USDA South Carolina Broadband Grant
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has invested $9,750,000 in high-speed broadband infrastructure that will create or improve rural e-Connectivity for 3,911 rural households in South Carolina. Orangeburg, County, S.C., will use ReConnect Program grant funding to deploy a fiber to the home (FTTH) broadband network capable of simultaneous transmission rates of 100 megabits per second (Mbps) or greater. The funded service areas include 3,911 households, 21 farms, 17 rural businesses, 13 educational facilities, nine critical community facilities and a health care center. The project will facilitate more access to services and information for local residents, and it will improve the overall quality of life for people in the community.
In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. On Dec. 13, 2018, Secretary Perdue announced the rules of the program, called “ReConnect,” including how the loans and grants will be awarded to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America. USDA received 146 applications between May 31, 2019, and July 12, 2019, requesting $1.4 billion in funding across all three ReConnect Program funding products: 100 percent loan, 100 percent grant, and loan-grant combinations. USDA is reviewing applications and announcing approved projects on a rolling basis. The South Carolina grant is one of many funding announcements in the first round of investments. Additional investments in all three categories will be made in the coming weeks.
These grants, loans and combination funds enable the federal government to partner with the private sector and rural communities to build modern broadband infrastructure in areas with insufficient internet service. Insufficient service is defined as connection speeds of less than 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload.
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.
THE REGULATORY MIX WILL BE ON FALL BREAK FROM OCTOBER 28, 2019 THROUGH NOVEMBER 4, 2019. WE WILL BE BACK ON NOVEMBER 5TH!