News from the ITA

February 1, 2021


Illinois Legislative Update

The Illinois House of Representatives elected a new Speaker of the House Jan. 13. Members of the House are next scheduled to return to Springfield on February 10 to adopt new House Rules for the 102nd General Assembly which may allow for remote committee hearings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Illinois House has canceled all other February session days due to the pandemic. House Speaker Chris Welch announced House Committee Chairs this week, but full committee memberships have not yet been announced. Rep. Larry Walsh, Jr. will continue to Chair the House Public Utilities Committee and Rep. Lamont Robinson, Jr. will Chair the Cybersecurity, Data Analytics & IT Committee.

The Senate canceled this week's session days due to the pandemic. The next Senate scheduled session day is February 9. Senate President Don Harmon also announced Senate Committee Chairs recently. Sen. Michael Hastings will continue to Chair the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee. The Senate will not have a Telecommunications and Information Technology Committee in the 102nd General Assembly. Full committee memberships are not yet available.

Members of the House and Senate have begun filing bills. We will review all the bill filings and report on measures that affect the broadband and telecommunications industry in Illinois. 

217 Area Code Overlay and 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline Requires Implementation of 10-digit Dialing in Illinois

Mandatory 10-digit Dialing for 217 Area Code Begins Feb. 27

Reminder: The 447 area code is being added as an overlay to the region currently served by area code 217 to ensure a continuing supply of telephone numbers for the area. An overlay is the addition of another area code (447) to the same geographic region served by an existing area code (217). The ICC ordered an area code overlay for the 217 Area Code on August 15, 2006, to be implemented upon the exhaust of available, unassigned 217 prefixes. An overlay does not require customers to change their existing area code or telephone number.

A six-month permissive dialing period began August 29, 2020, to give consumers adequate time to adjust to the changes. Beginning February 27, 2021, mandatory dialing will occur where all local calls made within the Illinois 217 Area Code will have to be placed using the 10-digit telephone number (area code + the 7- digit telephone number). Beginning March 27, 2021, new telephone lines or services may be assigned numbers using the new 447 area code.

988 - Three Digit Dialing for Suicide Prevention will Require 10-digit Dialing in 309, 618 & 708 Area Codes

The FCC adopted an Order (FCC 20-100) last summer approving 988 as the 3-digit abbreviated dialing code to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, starting July 16, 2022. The Order requires all telecommunications carriers, interconnected Voice of Internet Protocol (VoIP) providers, and one-way VoIP providers (covered providers) to make any network changes necessary to ensure users can dial 988 to reach the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022. In order for 988 to work in the Illinois 309, 618 and 708 area codes, 10-digit local dialing or 1-10 digit dialing) must first be implemented. Here are some milestones:

  • July 16 - April 24, 2021 - End user education
  • April 24, 2021 - Permissive dialing; End users encouraged to dial 10-digits
  • October 24, 2021 - Mandatory 10-digit dialing can be enforced by carriers. Carriers are free to set their own  rolling schedule as this is not a required flash cut
  • July 15, 2022 - Carriers must have all rolling cuts complete and enforce mandatory 10-digit dialing
  • July 16, 2022 - All end user initiated calls dialing 988 must be routed to the toll-free access number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8225 (TALK)

 FCC News

FCC Issues Tentative Agenda for February Open Meeting (NECA Washington Watch)

The FCC issued a tentative agenda on Jan. 28, 2021, for its Feb. 17, 2021 Open Meeting. At the meeting, the FCC will hear a presentation on the creation of a $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program that Congress charged the FCC with developing to help Americans who are struggling to pay for internet service during the pandemic. The FCC will also hear presentations about the next steps for the agency’s COVID-19 Telehealth program and on the work the FCC is doing to improve its broadband maps. Additionally, the FCC will consider an NPRM on addressing the diversion of 911 fees by states and other jurisdictions for purposes unrelated to 911, and a third FNPRM to modify FCC rules consistent with changes made to the Secure Networks Act.

Emergency Broadband Benefit Roundtable on February 12 (NECA Washington Watch)

The Wireline Competition Bureau issued a public notice on Jan. 28, 2021, to announce it will hold an Emergency Broadband Benefit program roundtable discussion on Feb. 12, 2021, at 10 a.m. EST. The roundtable will provide an opportunity for Commission staff and interested parties to examine proposed actions the Commission should take to establish the program, and will focus on the important public policy and program administration decisions that will shape the Commission’s approach to administering the funding. It will be held virtually. news release; Comments Filed on Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (Reply comments are due Feb. 16, 2021); Public Notice

FCC Issues Report and Order on Digital Opportunity Data Collection (NECA Washington Watch)

The FCC issued a third report and order on January 19, 2021, adopting additional rules for the Digital Opportunity Data Collection. The report and order, among other things: specified facilities-based fixed service providers are required to report broadband internet access service coverage in the DODC and required these providers to identify where such services are offered to residential locations as well as where they are offered to business locations; established specific reporting requirements relating to speed and latency for fixed service providers and required terrestrial fixed wireless services providers to report on the coordinates of their base stations; established the requirements for challenges to fixed and mobile service coverage reporting and for challenges to the fabric data; and established standards for identifying locations that will be included in the fabric. news release

FCC Issues Broadband Deployment Report (NECA Washington Watch)

The FCC released its 14th broadband deployment report on January 19, 2021, finding for a third consecutive year advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed on a reasonable and timely basis and the digital divide continues to narrow. The report found, among other things, since the last broadband deployment report the number of Americans in areas without access to at least 25/3 Mbps has dropped from more than 18.1 million at the end of 2018 to fewer than 14.5 million at the end of 2019, a decrease of more than 20%. Also, more than three-quarters of those in newly served areas, nearly 3.7 million, are located in rural areas, bringing the number of rural Americans in areas served by at least 25/3 Mbps to nearly 83%. news release

Wireline Bureau Issues Declaratory Ruling on Pole Replacement Costs (NECA Washington Watch)

The Wireline Competition Bureau issued a declaratory ruling on January 19, 2021, clarifying it is unreasonable and inconsistent with section 224 of the Communications Act, the Commission’s rules and past precedent for utilities to impose the entire cost of a pole replacement on a requesting attacher when the attacher is not the sole cause of the pole replacement. The bureau said, while it is not acting on NCTA’s petition for declaratory ruling, this clarification is necessary to address comments on the petition that indicated inconsistent utility practices with respect to the allocation of pole replacement costs. The bureau said it is more appropriate to address questions on the allocation of pole replacement costs within the context of a rulemaking. 

Rural Partners Telehealth Webinar Series Continues Feb. 12

The Rural Partners Telehealth Series continues next week with Part 2: The COVID-19 Telehealth Sea Change and New Opportunities (Feb 12) for those interested in learning more about telehealth and how it has changed healthcare during the pandemic.

Part 3: The Value of Telehealth to Rural Economies (Feb 17) will look at existing research on telemedicine that suggests that access is a major determinant of demand. Participants can expect to learn how significant telemedicine as a model for healthcare provision in Illinois, whether the preference for telemedicine differ between the metro and the nonmetro population, and what is the overall societal value of telemedicine.

Last week’s Part 1: SIU Medicine’s Telehealth Program and Experience (Jan 21) covered how SIU Medicine’s “telehealth to the home” services has expanded and continues to move towards the future demand.


Member News

Employment Opportunity - Network Engineer - Shawnee Communications

Shawnee's Network Engineer will design, update, and monitor data networking systems and equipment. They will review network traffic, usage, and capacity to assess future network requirements. They make recommendations regarding new system technologies and upgrades.

Employment Opportunity - Account Relations Position - Central Scott Telephone

Central Scott Telephone/CS Technologies is looking to hire an experienced Account Relations team member.

Broadband & Telecom Headlines


Here's What Educators Should Expect From the Biden Administration on Education Technology (EducationWeek)

Report: 70% of U.S. Residents Have Access to Low-Cost Broadband (Fierce Telecom)

Telehealth Adoption Report: 41% of Broadband Households Had a Remote Visit in 2020 (telecompetitor)

Internet Regulation Takes on Greater Urgency as Pandemic Highlights Digital Divide (Washington Post)

Benton Institute Offers Recommendations for National Broadband Agenda (NECA Washington Watch)


The Benton Institute for Broadband and Society issued recommendations for a national broadband agenda on Jan. 27, 2021. It suggested, among other things: making affordable high-performance broadband available to low-income, unserved and underserved populations; the FCC concentrate on how it can make fixed broadband to the home much more affordable; and the creation of a permanent credit for broadband to the home.

Illinois Telecommunications Association

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 (217) 572-1262