January 19, 2021– At the end of December 2020, to augment the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (H.R. 133), the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) creates numerous broadband-related programs. The broadband provisions account for a significant portion of the Appropriations Act. Some of the initiatives in the Act include:
- Broadband Infrastructure Deployment Grants (NTIA): $300 million allocated for broadband programs in eligible service areas by “covered partnerships” such as a state or a political subdivision.
- Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grants (NTIA): $1 billion apportioned for broadband infrastructure deployment, affordability, and broadband initiatives on Tribal lands.
- Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (FCC): $3.2 billion for reimbursing eligible households for broadband services and a subsidy for associated equipment.
- Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (NTIA):$285 million for grants to minority institutions and organizations to support broadband expansion.
- COVID-19 Telehealth Program (FCC): $250 million in additional funding to support the existing FCC Telehealth program.
- Amendments to Secure and Trusted Networks Reimbursement Program: $1.9 billion to fund, remove, and replace communications equipment [Source: Casey Lide and Jason Chun via Keller and Heckman LLP].