Tribal Libraries NPRM and Listening Session
On October 1, 2021, the Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), which proposes to update the definition of libraries in its rules to clarify that Tribal libraries are eligible to participate in the Commission's E-Rate program. The E-Rate program provides financial support to ensure schools and libraries can obtain affordable, high-speed broadband services and internal connections. The NPRM seeks comment on this proposal, and also solicits input on other steps the Commission could take to encourage and support Tribal schools and libraries' participation in the E-Rate Program. Comments are due November 15, 2021 and reply comments are due November 29, 2021.
On October 27, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. ET, the Federal Communications Commission's Office of Native Affairs and Policy and the Wireline Competition Bureau will host a listening session for Tribal leaders, staff, and outreach partners to inform participants about the NPRM. This interactive listening session will start with an overview of the NPRM, followed by an opportunity for Tribal participants to ask questions and provide informal feedback. To register for the listening session, please send an email with your name, contact information, and Tribal affiliation to OctoberSessionLibraries@fcc.gov. Pre-registration will allow full interactive participation via WebEx.
Click here https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-supports-broadband-tribal-libraries-through-e-rate-0 to obtain a copy of the NPRM. Click here https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filings to file comments on the NPRM by searching for docket "02-6" in the "Proceedings" field.
NTIA to Resume Use of FCC's Tower Construction Notification System
The FCC and National Telecommunications and Information Administration are collaborating on a plan that would continue NTIA's access to Tower Construction Notification System as part of the effort to bring broadband connectivity to historically unserved and underserved Tribal and other communities. On Oct. 22, the FCC notified Tribal leaders about the plan (download letter - PDF). Please email any comments, questions, or meeting requests regarding this matter to Matthew Duchesne, FCC Office of Native Affairs and Policy (email@example.com) or Adam Geisler, NTIA Tribal Liaison (firstname.lastname@example.org) by November 12, 2021.
Learn About the Emergency Broadband Benefit
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is an FCC program to help eligible families and households struggling to afford internet service as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program provides the following discounts to eligible households: a discount of up to $50 per month towards broadband service ($75 per month on qualifying Tribal lands), and a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers, subject to a modest co-pay requirement. The program will end when the fund runs out of money, or six months after the end of the pandemic, whichever is sooner.
Click here https://www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit for eligibility criteria, application instructions, a consumer outreach toolkit for providers, an informational webinar and more.
Proceeding of Tribal Interest
- Ex Parte Reform NPRM Summary
On July 9, 2020, the Commission released an Ex Parte Reform Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (2020 NPRM). The Commission's ex parte rules govern when and how outside parties may communicate with the Commission about pending rulemakings and other matters. The 2020 NPRM proposed, among other things, to alter the rules governing ex parte presentations by federally recognized Indian Tribes to facilitate candid government-to-government discussions and presentations between the Commission and individual Tribes in certain circumstances. Under the proposed rule, at the Tribe's option, neither the topics discussed during the consultation nor the fact that a meeting or presentation occurred or the contents of such a meeting or presentation would need to be publicly disclosed; but the Commission would not be able to rely upon any information from the meeting or presentation in its decision making unless the Tribal government agrees to make the information part of the public record.
Click here https://www.fcc.gov/document/updating-commissions-ex-parte-rules to obtain a copy of the 2020 NPRM. You can also review public comments on the 2020 NPRM through the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) at https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/, by searching in GC Docket No. 20-221.
The following link will take you to the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Tribal Leaders Directory website: www.bia.gov/tribal-leaders-directory. There you will find an electronic, map-based, interactive directory of information on each federally recognized Indian Tribe, as well as a separate Excel spreadsheet with the names and contact information of current Tribal leaders, among other information.