UPDATE The FCC Wireline Competition Bureau set upcoming milestone dates for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB). The $3.2 billion federal initiative created by Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 will help lower the cost of high speed internet for eligible households during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FCC adopted rules to establish the program on February 25. Congress directed the agency to announce a timeline within seven days. That includes a date by which broadband providers that want to take part must submit their information to both the FCC and the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) depending on the regulatory status of the broadband provider.
Eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) and their affiliates in the states or territories where the ETC is designated can participate in the EBB program by filing the appropriate information with USAC and do not need to seek approval from the bureau in those states. All other broadband providers do need to get a green light from the bureau.
The non-ETC provider application and alternative eligibility verification process portal opens on March 8 at the Wireline Bureau. The Provider Election Notice Inbox Opens March 11 at the USAC and the non-ETC provider priority application and alternative eligibility verification process deadline at the Wireline Bureau is March 22.
Non-ETC providers that want to take part will have a chance to be approved before household enrollments begin. Applications received after the priority application deadline will be expeditiously reviewed on a rolling basis, according to the agency.
The Wireline Bureau anticipates a large number of provider applications and elections, and said the deadlines reflect the time needed for the bureau and USAC to review the filings and provide sufficient notice to providers before the program begins. Later, the bureau will set other administrative deadlines or milestones. That includes when the EBB program begins and when providers can start enrolling households.