MIL-OSI USA: Commerce Committee Advances Two Capito Bills Focused on Broadband Deployment


US Senate News:

Source: United States Senator for West Virginia Shelley Moore Capito
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation advanced two pieces of bipartisan legislation originally cosponsored by U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), also a member of the committee.
The Network Equipment Transparency (NET) Act would increase broadband supply chain transparency in order to ensure an on-time rollout of the broadband programs managed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
“As we begin to deploy more broadband from the bipartisan infrastructure law, it’s critical we keep these projects as insulated as possible from the negative impacts of the supply chain crisis,” Senator Capito said. “I’m pleased our committee advanced this bipartisan legislation because connecting West Virginians with reliable, high-speed internet remains our priority, and the NET Act would provide us with another tool to monitor the supply chain so these crucial projects can be executed in a timely manner.”
Broadband infrastructure projects have been affected by supply chain woes in the past. A lack of transparency into the health of the telecommunications supply chain may contribute to future equipment shortages as federal broadband programs prioritize high-speed, reliable, and accessible networks. The Network Equipment Transparency (NET) Act would identify these supply chain issues earlier so they can be addressed.
Specifically, the bill would require the FCC’s Annual Broadband Deployment Report to describe to Congress the impact of supply chain disruptions on the deployment of broadband service.
The Funding Affordable Internet with Reliable (FAIR) Contributions Act would direct the FCC to conduct a study into the feasibility of collecting Universal Service Fund (USF) contributions from internet edge providers such as YouTube, Netflix, and Google.
“As we all know, building out our internet infrastructure is expensive, especially in hard-to-serve areas like West Virginia,” Senator Capito said. “For some time now, Big Tech has profited off of the critical infrastructure used for common day-to-day activities while not helping at a sufficient level to improve those capabilities with broadband investment in states like West Virginia. This important, bipartisan legislation we passed would explore ways that Big Tech can step up and help close the digital divide and bring universal service to West Virginia’s families, schools, and communities.”
The FAIR Contributions Act would:
Direct the FCC to issue a Notice of Inquiry seeking public comment on the feasibility of collecting USF contributions from internet edge providers, and issue a final report on the matter within 180 days.
Require the FCC to consider:
Possible sources of Big Tech revenue, such as digital advertising and user fees.
The fairness of the current system and a system under which contributions could be assessed on Big Tech firms.
The feasibility of assessing contributions on such a broad category of firms that do not currently register with the FCC.
The effects such a change would have on Tribal, low-income, and elderly consumers.
The changes to current law necessary to implement this system.
Through the USF, the FCC disburses approximately $10 billion per year to fund broadband deployment to high-cost rural areas, schools and libraries, rural health care facilities, telehealth services, and broadband subsidies for low-income Americans. The USF collects money from telecommunications carriers, set at a percentage of their interstate and international revenues, which carriers usually pass onto consumers in their monthly bills.
Both pieces of legislation may now be considered on the floor of the U.S. Senate.