Today’s Regulatory Mix:  Rosenworcel Tapped to Chair the FCC, FCC Approves an Additional $40.46 Million as Part of COVID-19 Telehealth Program, Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program Notice of Funding Availability, West Virginia Broadband Development Fund

Rosenworcel Tapped to Chair the FCC

President Biden today announced his intent to appoint acting Federal Communications Commissioner Chair Jessica Rosenworcel to head the agency.  Biden also nominated Gigi Sohn as the third Democrat for the Commission. If confirmed by the Senate before December, the FCC’s 2-2 deadlock would end and provide Democrats with a majority. Rosenworcel would become the first woman to permanently chair the FCC.

FCC Approves an Additional $40.46 Million Awarded as Part of COVID-19 Telehealth Program

The FCC approved an additional 71 applications for funding commitments totaling $40,468,845 for Round 2 of its COVID-19 Telehealth Program. This is the FCC’s third funding announcement of approved Round 2 applications bringing the total to approximately $123.6 million awarded to health care providers in each state, territory, and the District of Columbia.

The FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program supports the efforts of health care providers to continue serving their patients by providing reimbursement for telecommunications services, information services, and connected devices necessary to enable telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. Round 2 is a $249.95 million federal initiative that builds on the $200 million program established as part of the CARES Act. As outlined in the Round 2 Report and Order, once $150 million in funding has been committed, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau will announce an opportunity for all remaining applicants to supplement their applications, as required by Congress. After all remaining applicants have the opportunity to supplement, the remaining program funding will be committed.

Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program Notice of Funding Availability

Governor Reynolds is making available up to $200,000,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for broadband expansion in Iowa. To distribute these funds, the Office of the Chief Information Officer is issuing Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) #007 for the Empower Rural Iowa Broadband Grant Program. On October 25, 2021, the Office issued Notice of Funding Availability #007 which begins the Application Acceptance Window for this NOFA. The Application Acceptance Window is now open. he window to submit Applications is open until November 22, 2021 at 5:00 CST.

West Virginia Broadband Development Fund

Governor Jim Justice (R.) signed HB 399 into law, creating the Broadband Development Fund in the state treasury. The new fund will be administered by the Department of Economic Development. It would consist of all funds made available for broadband including gifts, grants, and legislative appropriations for expenditures during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022. Funds may be used for expenses for operating the fund; line extension advancement and development projects, including expansion of existing fiber and cable networks; major broadband project strategies, including new networks or major expansions of existing networks; “Gig Ready incentive projects, including a state incentive for ISP and local governments and organizations to pool some of their federal American Rescue Plan Act allocations or other local funding”; and wireless Internet networks, including expansions or upgrades of existing fixed wireless networks.

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.