News from the ITA

March 16, 2021



2021 ITA Annual Convention June 7th & 8th, Golf Outing June 10th

Save the dates in your calendar for the ITA Virtual Convention June 7th and 8th! We have sent out a call for presentations and expect another great agenda of speakers this year. We are also planning an in-person golf outing at Piper Glen Golf Club in Springfield, Illinois June 10th and hope that all who are able will join us. We will be sharing more information about the Convention and golf outing including agendas and registration information soon.

Illinois Legislative Update

The Illinois General Assembly spring legislative session is well underway. The Illinois Senate has resumed meeting in-person at the Capitol, with very limited access to lobbyists. The Illinois House plans to continue with remote committee hearings through the March 26th deadline to pass bills out of committees.

There are several important statutes that are set to expire this year and legislation has been introduced to extend the expiration of the Telecommunications Act, Video Competition Law, Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act and the Emergency Telephone System Act (9-1-1). The ITA is working with our member companies and legislators on any necessary updates to these acts. Legislation to extend the Telecommunications Act includes language that provides relief from carrier of last resort obligations for CenturyLink under the same process and consumer notifications and protections established for a large electing provider in 2017. The ETSA will include a number of updates as the state transitions to Next Generation 9-1-1.

There is a proposal to expand the current Universal Telephone Service Assistance Program to a Universal Broadband Service Assistance Program for qualifying low-income consumers. The measure requires each telecommunications carrier, wireless carrier, and Interconnected VoIP service provider to notify their customers that the customer may voluntarily contribute to the program. The program may provide assistance in the form of a reduction of monthly charges, a reduction of installation charges, devices used in connection to the Internet, or other assistance to increase accessibility to broadband service and broadband internet access.

There is also legislation that would prohibit a holder of a state-issued video authorization from imposing data caps on broadband service provided to households, measures that would prohibit cable and video providers from charging customers for modems and routers, and legislation that would require video providers to reimburse customers when a channel the customer subscribes to is unavailable due to a contract dispute with the broadcaster.

In all, there were more than 4,000 bills introduced in the Illinois House of Representatives and more than 2,800 bills introduced in the Illinois Senate. A full summary of bills the ITA is tracking can be found on the ITA website.

  Emergency Broadband Benefit Program News

FCC Wireline Bureau Announces Initial Milestones for Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (NECA Washington Watch)

The Wireline Competition Bureau issued a public notice on March 4, 2021, announcing a timeline for submission of information by broadband providers to participate in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program. The bureau said ETCs and their affiliates can elect to participate by filing the appropriate information with USAC and do not need to seek approval from the bureau. All other broadband providers need to seek approval from the bureau to participate. The bureau said: the non-ETC provider application and alternative eligibility verification process portal will open on March 8, 2021; the provider election notice inbox will open on March 11, 2021; and the non-ETC provider priority application and alternative eligibility verification process deadline is March 22, 2021. The bureau will announce in a future public notice the official commencement of the program and provided links to an FCC and USAC website for more details on program participation.

FCC's Emergency Broadband Benefit Program - USAC Service Provider Election Process Now Open

Beginning March 11th, service providers can submit election notices to USAC to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB Program). To submit an election notice, service providers must complete the EBB Program Election Form and submit it, along with all required documentation , to USAC using the [email protected] email box.

Service providers who are not eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) must apply for and receive FCC approval to participate in the EBB Program before submitting their election to USAC.

To learn more about the process for service providers to participate in the EBB Program, visit USAC’s website. USAC hosted a training that reviews the details of the FCC approval and USAC election processes – a recording of that training is available on USAC’s website.

Stay Informed - Visit to follow EBB Program updates and register for trainings. If this email was forwarded to you, sign up for the EBB Program outreach list.


Other Federal News & Programs

Biden Signs American Rescue Plan Act, Includes Over $7 Billion for Remote Learning (NECA Washington Watch)

President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 on March 11, 2021, which includes, among other things, over $7 billion for an Emergency Connectivity Fund to support remote learning. This fund would support the provision of connected devices, internet service and hotspots by schools and libraries to students, teachers and library patrons for home and other remote use and gives the FCC 60 days to promulgate rules under its statutory E-rate authority to distribute the support. Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel issued a statement on the signing of the legislation.

Klobuchar, Clyburn Introduce Broadband Infrastructure Legislation (NECA Washington Watch) 

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) announced on March 11, 2021, they introduced broadband infrastructure legislation which would invest over $94 billion to build high-speed broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities to close the digital divide and ensure Americans have internet connectivity. The legislation, among other things: authorizes $80 billion to deploy high-speed broadband infrastructure nationwide; allocates $5 billion over five years for low-interest financing of broadband deployment through a new secured loan program; and authorizes an additional $6 billion for the FCC’s Emergency Broadband Connectivity Fund.

House Bill Proposes Over $100B for Broadband (NECA Washington Watch)

Democratic members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced the Leading Infrastructure For Tomorrow’s America Act on March 11, 2021. The bill would invest over $312 billion in clean energy, energy efficiency, drinking water, broadband and health care infrastructure. The bill, among other things, provides: $80 billion for the deployment of secure and resilient high-speed broadband; $5 billion in federal funding for low-interest financing of broadband deployment with a new program that would allow eligible entities to apply for secured loans, lines of credit or loan guarantees to finance broadband infrastructure buildout projects; and $9.3 billion for broadband affordability and adoption.

FCC Issues Agenda for March Open Meeting (NECA Washington Watch)

The FCC issued the agenda on March 10, 2021, for its March 17, 2021 Open Meeting and will consider: a second report and order that would provide state and federal agencies with direct, read-only access to communications outage data for public safety purposes while preserving the confidentiality of that data; an NPRM and NOI to improve the way the public receives emergency alerts on their mobile phones, televisions and radios; a second report and order that would establish rules to create a new 3.45 GHz service operating between 3.45 and 3.55 GHz; a public notice that would establish application and bidding procedures for the auction of flexible use licenses in the 3.45-3.55 GHz band; and an NOI on the current status of open radio access networks and virtualized network environments, including potential obstacles to their development and deployment. The commission will also consider an Enforcement Bureau item and two national security items.

Foundation for Rural Service Releases Report on Rural Broadband During Pandemic (NECA Washington Watch)

NTCA announced on March 8, 2021, the Foundation for Rural Service released a report that focused on the impact the pandemic has had across rural America and the state of rural broadband in 2021. NTCA said the report found average broadband network usage increased by 40% from the end of 2019 to the end of 2020, and rural America’s broadband networks have performed well, in part due to infrastructure investments by rural broadband providers, among other things.

 Broadband & Telecom Headlines

White House weighs new cybersecurity approach after failure to detect hacks (New York Times)

House bill would pour $94B into broadband expansion (Fierce Telecom)

Illinois Telecommunications Association

312 S. 4th Street, Suite 100

           Springfield, IL 62701             

 (217) 572-1262