At its last open meeting in 2017, the five FCC Commissioners unanimously voted to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Order regarding the Commission’s Rural Health Care (RHC) Program, a 20-year old initiative aimed at improving rural health care provider access to first telecommunications services and later an array of communications services, including Internet access, dark fiber, and business data services.  This item is part of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s overall initiative to close the “digital divide,” and proposes to increase the $400 million spending cap for the first time since 1997.  The NPRM also proposes to change how the FCC handles demand beyond the cap, from general proration to prioritization based on rurality or remoteness.  As such, all interested stakeholders should carefully monitor and consider participating in the rulemaking process.  Comments will be due 30 days after publication of the item in the Federal Register (which usually takes a few weeks) and reply comments will be due 60 days after publication.

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stock_02042015_0363On November 17, 2015, the Department of Labor (DOL) and the White House issued a funding announcement releasing $100 million in grants as a part of the Obama Administration’s TechHire Initiative, which specifically calls out funding to train workers in the cybersecurity and broadband industries.  DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) expects to award 30-40 grants ranging from $2 million to $5 million.  Applications for the two-year grant are due March 11, 2016 with projects beginning June 1, 2016.

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