IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
May 3, 2022
Mrs. Capito (for herself and Ms. Klobuchar) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
To require the Federal Communications Commission to establish a vetting process for prospective applicants for high-cost universal service program funding.
This Act may be cited as the
Rural Broadband Protection Act of 2022.
Vetting process for prospective high-cost universal service fund applicants
In this section—
the term Commission means the Federal Communications Commission;
the term covered funding means high-cost universal service program funding provided through a competitive award process for the deployment of a broadband-capable network and the provision of supported services over the network; and
the term new covered funding award means an award of covered funding that is made based on an application submitted to the Commission on or after the date on which rules are promulgated under subsection (b).
Not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Commission shall initiate a rulemaking proceeding to establish a vetting process for applicants for, and other recipients of, a new covered funding award.
In promulgating rules under subsection (b), the Commission shall provide that—
an applicant for a new covered funding award shall include in the initial application a proposal containing sufficient detail and documentation for the Commission to ascertain that the applicant possesses the technical capability, and has a reasonable plan, to deploy the proposed network and deliver services with the relevant performance characteristics defined by the Commission and as pledged by the applicant;
the proposal described in paragraph (1) shall include sufficient detail and supporting documentation for the Commission to reasonably ascertain whether the applicant and the technology that the applicant plans to use would have the ability to perform as required given the characteristics of the locations to be served; and
the Commission shall evaluate a proposal described in paragraph (1) against reasonable and well-established technical standards, including the technical standards adopted by the Commission in orders of the Commission relating to modernizing the FCC Form 477 Data Program (WC Docket No. 11–10) (or orders of the Commission relating to modernizing any successor collection) for purposes of entities that must report broadband availability coverage.