EBBP Eligibility, Budget Control Mechanism Cause Concern

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NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association met recently with the FCC to discuss problems that small companies have experienced with enrolling in the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) for its Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBBP) by the National Verifier.

Separately, NTCA asked the Commission to waive application of its budget control mechanism to certain types of universal service support in light of “cash flow concerns and other challenges brought on by the pandemic.” In response to this and other requests, the FCC on June 3 issued an order waiving the budget control mechanism for all rate-of-return carriers receiving high-cost universal service support for legacy mechanisms from July, 2021 to June, 2022.

With regard to EBBP eligibility, NTCA pointed to a number of small, rather inconsequential – but highly critical — format issues in the information filed with the National Verifier as the major cause of unintended ineligibility. It made clear that “no party is seeking to undermine the important role of the NLAD in enforcing the ‘one-per-household’ rule.”

NTCA said that by clarifying or simplifying these format requirements, the Commission could easily grant the requested relief “while ensuring that these very same subscribers are not receiving the programs subsidy from another participating provider.”

As usual, NTCA is at the forefront of key regulatory challenges facing small RLECs.