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FCC Pledge Extended; Shirley Bloomfield To Testify Before Senate; PPE Guidance

FCC Pledge Extended; Shirley Bloomfield To Testify Before Senate; PPE Guidance Please see the information below on the continuation of the Keeping Americans Connected Pledge and the 10AM today Testimony of Shirley Bloomfield before the US Senate:

Reminder: FCC Chairman Pai Extends Keeping Americans Connected Pledge Through June 30; NTCA Requests Congressional Assistance
Several hundred NTCA member companies have joined the FCC Chairman’s “Keep Americans Connected” pledge, doing all that they can to extend broadband and “keep the Internet lights on” for their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, we are proud to note that NTCA appears to have more members that have taken the pledge than any other group. In addition, many other members are taking similar steps and doing even more to make sure their communities have access to robust and affordable communications. These many efforts, and the tremendous initial showing of NTCA member support for the pledge, have helped NTCA to tout the good work you are doing in your communities and to advocate for assistance on your behalf in the midst of this crisis.   On April 30, Chairman Pai urged companies to extend the pledge on a voluntary basis through June 30, 2020. The FCC recognizes that this may be more difficult for smaller and rural operators, however – and if companies that have already signed onto the pledge believe they cannot extend it, they are directed to email KACpledge@fcc.gov by May 12. (In other words, companies will remain on the list as committed to the pledge through June 30 unless they indicate otherwise directly to the FCC.)  If any companies should elect to opt out of the pledge, NTCA would ask that you please copy Mike Romano (mromano@ntca.org) on those transmittals to the FCC so that we can track those communications.   In addition, those companies that have not yet signed onto the pledge but wish to do so through June 30 can notify Mike Romano (mromano@ntca.org), and he will make sure that any new commitments to the pledge are communicated to the FCC.   Even as consideration of and discussion about extending the FCC chairman’s pledge is underway, we recognize that sustaining efforts such as those in the pledge and others you have been making presents significant challenges for many businesses serving sparsely populated rural markets. To underscore this point and escalate it to the highest levels of government, on April 27, NTCA sent a letter to leaders of both parties in the House of Representatives and the Senate asking them to help member companies provide critical infrastructure for millions of people in the country’s most rural and remote areas. NTCA recommends that Congress establish an emergency program to help customers pay for broadband, as well as a complementary fund (such as the one contemplated by the Keeping Critical Connections Act) to help customers who need help paying but may not qualify for emergency relief or receive sufficient support from that emergency program.
Shirley Bloomfield to Testify on State of Broadband at U.S. Senate Hearing
NTCA Chief Executive Officer Shirley Bloomfield will testify on May 13 at the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s hearing, The State of Broadband Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic. This hearing will be the first held since the pandemic to focus on issues related to broadband, and will allow NTCA to tell lawmakers about the outstanding effortss and ongoing needs of members.
 
The hearing will be livestreamed and can be viewed here starting at 10:00 a.m. on May 13.
Updated Guidance from FEMA/CISA on Access to PPE
As a member of the communications sector coordinating council, NTCA has been in close contact with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and one of the measures we’ve made a highest priority is to help members gain access to personal protective equipment (PPE). NTCA still remains hopeful of receiving from FEMA several thousand cotton reusable face masks to distribute to our members, but FEMA is currently prioritizing distribution of PPE to the states. We will continue to provide updates on the shipment of masks from NTCA as they are available.

As FEMA ships PPE directly to the states, each state will determine distribution. The National Coordinating Council polled the FEMA/CISA regions to gather the point of contact information from the states and was able to gather information from 25 states. NTCA recommends that service providers with an urgent need for resupply of PPE for essential workers review the list to determine if they have state points of contact by visiting the NTCA website (note that you must log in with your NTCA password to access the file).
 
Please do not share the information contained in the list available through our website. Some of the points of contact are for the Communications Sector only and will not entertain requests from other sectors.

Notwithstanding these state points of contact, because shortages of PPE are expected to continue, CISA recommends that companies with workers who need PPE to perform their duties also look to work with private market supplier where possible. It offers this guidance for addressing PPE needs in non-healthcare settings.

In addition to providing updated guidance from FEMA, NTCA has also created a PPE Provider Directory for companies ready to work with NTCA members to meet their PPE needs. The organizations listed do not represent an endorsement by NTCA of the company’s products, services, events, logo or likeness.

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