As advertised, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has released a draft of an order and further notice of proposed rulemaking (FNPR) on rules to govern the $14.2 billion Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) broadband subsidies, including proposing to allow Emergency Broadband Benefit providers to automatically qualify to provide ACP-authorized service.
But despite the urging of the wireless industry, the FCC is not expanding the definition of covered devices to include smart phones.
The idea is to give the public and stakeholders time to comment on the item, though they will have to read fast since it is over 150 pages long.
The ACP program provides up to $30 per month toward broadband service (up to $75 for tribal communities) and up to $100 toward a broadband access device, excluding smart phones.
The public will have only until January 11 to comment given a congressional deadline that the FCC have promulgated the rules by January 14, which the commission still needs to vote on.
The FCC report and order is proposing to make the ACP technology neutral, which means among other things, that eligible entities will include both cable and wireless internet service providers, but also municipal broadband and co-ops.
But it is not proposing requiring ISPs to turn over service plan information during the ACP election process, saying it was convinced by commenters, which included ACAC, NCTA, INCOMPAS and many others, that “such an administrative burden could discourage provider participation.” The burden being “filing information on all service plans for a particular provider,” which “could result in thousands of permutations of price, service characteristics, and geographic information that would delay election notice filing and processing.”
I am an advocate for having an actual computer to get work/homework done but I also recognize that not everyone can afford a computer and not everyone lives a life that accommodates the time and space to sit down with a computer and therefore for some folks the smartphone is essential, more practical and deserving of support.