47 U.S. Code Section 254 - Universal service

(a) Procedures to review universal service requirements (1) Federal-State Joint Board on universal service

Within one month after February 8, 1996, the Commission shall institute and refer to a Federal-State Joint Board under section 410(c) of this title a proceeding to recommend changes to any of its regulations in order to implement sections 214(e) of this title and this section, including the definition of the services that are supported by Federal universal service support mechanisms and a specific timetable for completion of such recommendations. In addition to the members of the Joint Board required under section 410(c) of this title, one member of such Joint Board shall be a State-appointed utility consumer advocate nominated by a national organization of State utility consumer advocates. The Joint Board shall, after notice and opportunity for public comment, make its recommendations to the Commission 9 months after February 8, 1996.

(2) Commission action

The Commission shall initiate a single proceeding to implement the recommendations from the Joint Board required by paragraph (1) and shall complete such proceeding within 15 months after February 8, 1996. The rules established by such proceeding shall include a definition of the services that are supported by Federal universal service support mechanisms and a specific timetable for implementation. Thereafter, the Commission shall complete any proceeding to implement subsequent recommendations from any Joint Board on universal service within one year after receiving such recommendations.

(b) Universal service principles

The Joint Board and the Commission shall base policies for the preservation and advancement of universal service on the following principles:

(1) Quality and rates

Quality services should be available at just, reasonable, and affordable rates.

(2) Access to advanced services

Access to advanced telecommunications and information services should be provided in all regions of the Nation.

(3) Access in rural and high cost areas

Consumers in all regions of the Nation, including low-income consumers and those in rural, insular, and high cost areas, should have access to telecommunications and information services, including interexchange services and advanced telecommunications and information services, that are reasonably comparable to those services provided in urban areas and that are available at rates that are reasonably comparable to rates charged for similar services in urban areas.

(4) Equitable and nondiscriminatory contributions

All providers of telecommunications services should make an equitable and nondiscriminatory contribution to the preservation and advancement of universal service.

(5) Specific and predictable support mechanisms

There should be specific, predictable and sufficient Federal and State mechanisms to preserve and advance universal service.

(6) Access to advanced telecommunications services for schools, health care, and libraries

Elementary and secondary schools and classrooms, health care providers, and libraries should have access to advanced telecommunications services as described in subsection (h).

(7) Additional principles

Such other principles as the Joint Board and the Commission determine are necessary and appropriate for the protection of the public interest, convenience, and necessity and are consistent with this chapter.

(c) Definition (1) In general

Universal service is an evolving level of telecommunications services that the Commission shall establish periodically under this section, taking into account advances in telecommunications and information technologies and services. The Joint Board in recommending, and the Commission in establishing, the definition of the services that are supported by Federal universal service support mechanisms shall consider the extent to which such telecommunications services—

(A) are essential to education, public health, or public safety;

(B) have, through the operation of market choices by customers, been subscribed to by a substantial majority of residential customers;

(C) are being deployed in public telecommunications networks by telecommunications carriers; and

(D) are consistent with the public interest, convenience, and necessity.

(2) Alterations and modifications

The Joint Board may, from time to time, recommend to the Commission modifications in the definition of the services that are supported by Federal universal service support mechanisms.

(3) Special services

In addition to the services included in the definition of universal service under paragraph (1), the Commission may designate additional services for such support mechanisms for schools, libraries, and health care providers for the purposes of subsection (h).

(d) Telecommunications carrier contribution

Every telecommunications carrier that provides interstate telecommunications services shall contribute, on an equitable and nondiscriminatory basis, to the specific, predictable, and sufficient mechanisms established by the Commission to preserve and advance universal service. The Commission may exempt a carrier or class of carriers from this requirement if the carrier's telecommunications activities are limited to such an extent that the level of such carrier's contribution to the preservation and advancement of universal service would be de minimis. Any other provider of interstate telecommunications may be required to contribute to the preservation and advancement of universal service if the public interest so requires.

(e) Universal service support

After the date on which Commission regulations implementing this section take effect, only an eligible telecommunications carrier designated under section 214(e) of this title shall be eligible to receive specific Federal universal service support. A carrier that receives such support shall use that support only for the provision, maintenance, and upgrading of facilities and services for which the support is intended. Any such support should be explicit and sufficient to achieve the purposes of this section.

(f) State authority

A State may adopt regulations not inconsistent with the Commission's rules to preserve and advance universal service. Every telecommunications carrier that provides intrastate telecommunications services shall contribute, on an equitable and nondiscriminatory basis, in a manner determined by the State to the preservation and advancement of universal service in that State. A State may adopt regulations to provide for additional definitions and standards to preserve and advance universal service within that State only to the extent that such regulations adopt additional specific, predictable, and sufficient mechanisms to support such definitions or standards that do not rely on or burden Federal universal service support mechanisms.

(g) Interexchange and interstate services

Within 6 months after February 8, 1996, the Commission shall adopt rules to require that the rates charged by providers of interexchange telecommunications services to subscribers in rural and high cost areas shall be no higher than the rates charged by each such provider to its subscribers in urban areas. Such rules shall also require that a provider of interstate interexchange telecommunications services shall provide such services to its subscribers in each State at rates no higher than the rates charged to its subscribers in any other State.

(h) Telecommunications services for certain providers (1) In general (A) Health care providers for rural areas

A telecommunications carrier shall, upon receiving a bona fide request, provide telecommunications services which are necessary for the provision of health care services in a State, including instruction relating to such services, to any public or nonprofit health care provider that serves persons who reside in rural areas in that State at rates that are reasonably comparable to rates charged for similar services in urban areas in that State. A telecommunications carrier providing service under this paragraph shall be entitled to have an amount equal to the difference, if any, between the rates for services provided to health care providers for rural areas in a State and the rates for similar services provided to other customers in comparable rural areas in that State treated as a service obligation as a part of its obligation to participate in the mechanisms to preserve and advance universal service.

(B) Educational providers and libraries

All telecommunications carriers serving a geographic area shall, upon a bona fide request for any of its services that are within the definition of universal service under subsection (c)(3), provide such services to elementary schools, secondary schools, and libraries for educational purposes at rates less than the amounts charged for similar services to other parties. The discount shall be an amount that the Commission, with respect to interstate services, and the States, with respect to intrastate services, determine is appropriate and necessary to ensure affordable access to and use of such services by such entities. A telecommunications carrier providing service under this paragraph shall—

(i) have an amount equal to the amount of the discount treated as an offset to its obligation to contribute to the mechanisms to preserve and advance universal service, or

(ii) notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (e) of this section, receive reimbursement utilizing the support mechanisms to preserve and advance universal service.

(2) Advanced services

The Commission shall establish competitively neutral rules—

(A) to enhance, to the extent technically feasible and economically reasonable, access to advanced telecommunications and information services for all public and nonprofit elementary and secondary school classrooms, health care providers, and libraries; and

(B) to define the circumstances under which a telecommunications carrier may be required to connect its network to such public institutional telecommunications users.

(3) Terms and conditions

Telecommunications services and network capacity provided to a public institutional telecommunications user under this subsection may not be sold, resold, or otherwise transferred by such user in consideration for money or any other thing of value.

(4) Eligibility of users

No entity listed in this subsection shall be entitled to preferential rates or treatment as required by this subsection, if such entity operates as a for-profit business, is a school described in paragraph (7)(A) with an endowment of more than $50,000,000, or is a library or library consortium not eligible for assistance from a State library administrative agency under the Library Services and Technology Act [20 U.S.C. 9121 et seq.].

(5) Requirements for certain schools with computers having Internet access (A) Internet safety (i) In general

Except as provided in clause (ii), an elementary or secondary school having computers with Internet access may not receive services at discount rates under paragraph (1)(B) unless the school, school board, local educational agency, or other authority with responsibility for administration of the school—

(I) submits to the Commission the certifications described in subparagraphs (B) and (C);

(II) submits to the Commission a certification that an Internet safety policy has been adopted and implemented for the school under subsection (l); and

(III) ensures the use of such computers in accordance with the certifications.

(ii) Applicability

The prohibition in clause (i) shall not apply with respect to a school that receives services at discount rates under paragraph (1)(B) only for purposes other than the provision of Internet access, Internet service, or internal connections.

(iii) Public notice; hearing

An elementary or secondary school described in clause (i), or the school board, local educational agency, or other authority with responsibility for administration of the school, shall provide reasonable public notice and hold at least one public hearing or meeting to address the proposed Internet safety policy. In the case of an elementary or secondary school other than an elementary school or a secondary school as defined in section 7801 of title 20, the notice and hearing required by this clause may be limited to those members of the public with a relationship to the school.

(B) Certification with respect to minors

A certification under this subparagraph is a certification that the school, school board, local educational agency, or other authority with responsibility for administration of the school—

(i) is enforcing a policy of Internet safety for minors that includes monitoring the online activities of minors and the operation of a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are—

(I) obscene;

(II) child pornography; or

(III) harmful to minors;

(ii) is enforcing the operation of such technology protection measure during any use of such computers by minors; and

(iii) as part of its Internet safety policy is educating minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response.

(C) Certification with respect to adults

A certification under this paragraph is a certification that the school, school board, local educational agency, or other authority with responsibility for administration of the school—

(i) is enforcing a policy of Internet safety that includes the operation of a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are—

(I) obscene; or

(II) child pornography; and

(ii) is enforcing the operation of such technology protection measure during any use of such computers.

(D) Disabling during adult use

An administrator, supervisor, or other person authorized by the certifying authority under subparagraph (A)(i) may disable the technology protection measure concerned, during use by an adult, to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purpose.

(E) Timing of implementation (i) In general

Subject to clause (ii) in the case of any school covered by this paragraph as of the effective date of this paragraph under section 1721(h) of the Children's Internet Protection Act, the certification under subparagraphs (B) and (C) shall be made—

(I) with respect to the first program funding year under this subsection following such effective date, not later than 120 days after the beginning of such program funding year; and

(II) with respect to any subsequent program funding year, as part of the application process for such program funding year.

(ii) Process (I) Schools with Internet safety policy and technology protection measures in place

A school covered by clause (i) that has in place an Internet safety policy and technology protection measures meeting the requirements necessary for certification under subparagraphs (B) and (C) shall certify its compliance with subparagraphs (B) and (C) during each annual program application cycle under this subsection, except that with respect to the first program funding year after the effective date of this paragraph under section 1721(h) of the Children's Internet Protection Act, the certifications shall be made not later than 120 days after the beginning of such first program funding year.

(II) Schools without Internet safety policy and technology protection measures in place

A school covered by clause (i) that does not have in place an Internet safety policy and technology protection measures meeting the requirements necessary for certification under subparagraphs (B) and (C)—

(aa) for the first program year after the effective date of this subsection in which it is applying for funds under this subsection, shall certify that it is undertaking such actions, including any necessary procurement procedures, to put in place an Internet safety policy and technology protection measures meeting the requirements necessary for certification under subparagraphs (B) and (C); and

(bb) for the second program year after the effective date of this subsection in which it is applying for funds under this subsection, shall certify that it is in compliance with subparagraphs (B) and (C).

Any school that is unable to certify compliance with such requirements in such second program year shall be ineligible for services at discount rates or funding in lieu of services at such rates under this subsection for such second year and all subsequent program years under this subsection, until such time as such school comes into compliance with this paragraph.

(III) Waivers

Any school subject to subclause (II) that cannot come into compliance with subparagraphs (B) and (C) in such second year program may seek a waiver of subclause (II)(bb) if State or local procurement rules or regulations or competitive bidding requirements prevent the making of the certification otherwise required by such subclause. A school, school board, local educational agency, or other authority with responsibility for administration of the school shall notify the Commission of the applicability of such subclause to the school. Such notice shall certify that the school in question will be brought into compliance before the start of the third program year after the effective date of this subsection in which the school is applying for funds under this subsection.

(F) Noncompliance (i) Failure to submit certification

Any school that knowingly fails to comply with the application guidelines regarding the annual submission of certification required by this paragraph shall not be eligible for services at discount rates or funding in lieu of services at such rates under this subsection.

(ii) Failure to comply with certification

Any school that knowingly fails to ensure the use of its computers in accordance with a certification under subparagraphs (B) and (C) shall reimburse any funds and discounts received under this subsection for the period covered by such certification.

(iii) Remedy of noncompliance (I) Failure to submit

A school that has failed to submit a certification under clause (i) may remedy the failure by submitting the certification to which the failure relates. Upon submittal of such certification, the school shall be eligible for services at discount rates under this subsection.

(II) Failure to comply

A school that has failed to comply with a certification as described in clause (ii) may remedy the failure by ensuring the use of its computers in accordance with such certification. Upon submittal to the Commission of a certification or other appropriate evidence of such remedy, the school shall be eligible for services at discount rates under this subsection.

(6) Requirements for certain libraries with computers having Internet access (A) Internet safety (i) In general

Except as provided in clause (ii), a library having one or more computers with Internet access may not receive services at discount rates under paragraph (1)(B) unless the library—

(I) submits to the Commission the certifications described in subparagraphs (B) and (C); and

(II) submits to the Commission a certification that an Internet safety policy has been adopted and implemented for the library under subsection (l); and

(III) ensures the use of such computers in accordance with the certifications.

(ii) Applicability

The prohibition in clause (i) shall not apply with respect to a library that receives services at discount rates under paragraph (1)(B) only for purposes other than the provision of Internet access, Internet service, or internal connections.

(iii) Public notice; hearing

A library described in clause (i) shall provide reasonable public notice and hold at least one public hearing or meeting to address the proposed Internet safety policy.

(B) Certification with respect to minors

A certification under this subparagraph is a certification that the library—

(i) is enforcing a policy of Internet safety that includes the operation of a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are—

(I) obscene;

(II) child pornography; or

(III) harmful to minors; and

(ii) is enforcing the operation of such technology protection measure during any use of such computers by minors.

(C) Certification with respect to adults

A certification under this paragraph is a certification that the library—

(i) is enforcing a policy of Internet safety that includes the operation of a technology protection measure with respect to any of its computers with Internet access that protects against access through such computers to visual depictions that are—

(I) obscene; or

(II) child pornography; and

(ii) is enforcing the operation of such technology protection measure during any use of such computers.

(D) Disabling during adult use

An administrator, supervisor, or other person authorized by the certifying authority under subparagraph (A)(i) may disable the technology protection measure concerned, during use by an adult, to enable access for bona fide research or other lawful purpose.

(E) Timing of implementation (i) In general

Subject to clause (ii) in the case of any library covered by this paragraph as of the effective date of this paragraph under section 1721(h) of the Children's Internet Protection Act, the certification under subparagraphs (B) and (C) shall be made—

(I) with respect to the first program funding year under this subsection following such effective date, not later than 120 days after the beginning of such program funding year; and

(II) with respect to any subsequent program funding year, as part of the application process for such program funding year.

(ii) Process (I) Libraries with Internet safety policy and technology protection measures in place

A library covered by clause (i) that has in place an Internet safety policy and technology protection measures meeting the requirements necessary for certification under subparagraphs (B) and (C) shall certify its compliance with subparagraphs (B) and (C) during each annual program application cycle under this subsection, except that with respect to the first program funding year after the effective date of this paragraph under section 1721(h) of the Children's Internet Protection Act, the certifications shall be made not later than 120 days after the beginning of such first program funding year.

(II) Libraries without Internet safety policy and technology protection measures in place

A library covered by clause (i) that does not have in place an Internet safety policy and technology protection measures meeting the requirements necessary for certification under subparagraphs (B) and (C)—

(aa) for the first program year after the effective date of this subsection in which it is applying for funds under this subsection, shall certify that it is undertaking such actions, including any necessary procurement procedures, to put in place an Internet safety policy and technology protection measures meeting the requirements necessary for certification under subparagraphs (B) and (C); and

(bb) for the second program year after the effective date of this subsection in which it is applying for funds under this subsection, shall certify that it is in compliance with subparagraphs (B) and (C).

Any library that is unable to certify compliance with such requirements in such second program year shall be ineligible for services at discount rates or funding in lieu of services at such rates under this subsection for such second year and all subsequent program years under this subsection, until such time as such library comes into compliance with this paragraph.

(III) Waivers

Any library subject to subclause (II) that cannot come into compliance with subparagraphs (B) and (C) in such second year may seek a waiver of subclause (II)(bb) if State or local procurement rules or regulations or competitive bidding requirements prevent the making of the certification otherwise required by such subclause. A library, library board, or other authority with responsibility for administration of the library shall notify the Commission of the applicability of such subclause to the library. Such notice shall certify that the library in question will be brought into compliance before the start of the third program year after the effective date of this subsection in which the library is applying for funds under this subsection.

(F) Noncompliance (i) Failure to submit certification

Any library that knowingly fails to comply with the application guidelines regarding the annual submission of certification required by this paragraph shall not be eligible for services at discount rates or funding in lieu of services at such rates under this subsection.

(ii) Failure to comply with certification

Any library that knowingly fails to ensure the use of its computers in accordance with a certification under subparagraphs (B) and (C) shall reimburse all funds and discounts received under this subsection for the period covered by such certification.

(iii) Remedy of noncompliance (I) Failure to submit

A library that has failed to submit a certification under clause (i) may remedy the failure by submitting the certification to which the failure relates. Upon submittal of such certification, the library shall be eligible for services at discount rates under this subsection.

(II) Failure to comply

A library that has failed to comply with a certification as described in clause (ii) may remedy the failure by ensuring the use of its computers in accordance with such certification. Upon submittal to the Commission of a certification or other appropriate evidence of such remedy, the library shall be eligible for services at discount rates under this subsection.

(7) Definitions

For purposes of this subsection:

(A) Elementary and secondary schools

The term "elementary and secondary schools" means elementary schools and secondary schools, as defined in section 7801 of title 20.

(B) Health care provider

The term "health care provider" means—

(i) post-secondary educational institutions offering health care instruction, teaching hospitals, and medical schools;

(ii) community health centers or health centers providing health care to migrants;

(iii) local health departments or agencies;

(iv) community mental health centers;

(v) not-for-profit hospitals;

(vi) rural health clinics;

(vii) skilled nursing facilities (as defined in section 395i–3(a) of title 42); and

(viii) consortia of health care providers consisting of one or more entities described in clauses (i) through (vii).

(C) Public institutional telecommunications user

The term "public institutional telecommunications user" means an elementary or secondary school, a library, or a health care provider as those terms are defined in this paragraph.

(D) Minor

The term "minor" means any individual who has not attained the age of 17 years.

(E) Obscene

The term "obscene" has the meaning given such term in section 1460 of title 18.

(F) Child pornography

The term "child pornography" has the meaning given such term in section 2256 of title 18.

(G) Harmful to minors

The term "harmful to minors" means any picture, image, graphic image file, or other visual depiction that—

(i) taken as a whole and with respect to minors, appeals to a prurient interest in nudity, sex, or excretion;

(ii) depicts, describes, or represents, in a patently offensive way with respect to what is suitable for minors, an actual or simulated sexual act or sexual contact, actual or simulated normal or perverted sexual acts, or a lewd exhibition of the genitals; and

(iii) taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value as to minors.

(H) Sexual act; sexual contact

The terms "sexual act" and "sexual contact" have the meanings given such terms in section 2246 of title 18.

(I) Technology protection measure

The term "technology protection measure" means a specific technology that blocks or filters Internet access to the material covered by a certification under paragraph (5) or (6) to which such certification relates.

(i) Consumer protection

The Commission and the States should ensure that universal service is available at rates that are just, reasonable, and affordable.

(j) Lifeline assistance

Nothing in this section shall affect the collection, distribution, or administration of the Lifeline Assistance Program provided for by the Commission under regulations set forth in section 69.117 of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations, and other related sections of such title.

(k) Subsidy of competitive services prohibited

A telecommunications carrier may not use services that are not competitive to subsidize services that are subject to competition. The Commission, with respect to interstate services, and the States, with respect to intrastate services, shall establish any necessary cost allocation rules, accounting safeguards, and guidelines to ensure that services included in the definition of universal service bear no more than a reasonable share of the joint and common costs of facilities used to provide those services.

(l) Internet safety policy requirement for schools and libraries (1) In general

In carrying out its responsibilities under subsection (h), each school or library to which subsection (h) applies shall—

(A) adopt and implement an Internet safety policy that addresses—

(i) access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet and World Wide Web;

(ii) the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications;

(iii) unauthorized access, including so-called "hacking", and other unlawful activities by minors online;

(iv) unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal identification information regarding minors; and

(v) measures designed to restrict minors' access to materials harmful to minors; and

(B) provide reasonable public notice and hold at least one public hearing or meeting to address the proposed Internet safety policy.

(2) Local determination of content

A determination regarding what matter is inappropriate for minors shall be made by the school board, local educational agency, library, or other authority responsible for making the determination. No agency or instrumentality of the United States Government may—

(A) establish criteria for making such determination;

(B) review the determination made by the certifying school, school board, local educational agency, library, or other authority; or

(C) consider the criteria employed by the certifying school, school board, local educational agency, library, or other authority in the administration of subsection (h)(1)(B).

(3) Availability for review

Each Internet safety policy adopted under this subsection shall be made available to the Commission, upon request of the Commission, by the school, school board, local educational agency, library, or other authority responsible for adopting such Internet safety policy for purposes of the review of such Internet safety policy by the Commission.

(4) Effective date

This subsection shall apply with respect to schools and libraries on or after the date that is 120 days after December 21, 2000.

Annotations
Citation
47 U.S.C. § 254 (2021)
References
References in Text

This chapter, referred to in subsec. (b)(7), was in the original "this Act", meaning act June 19, 1934, ch. 652, 48 Stat. 1064, known as the Communications Act of 1934, which is classified principally to this chapter. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see section 609 of this title and Tables.

The Library Services and Technology Act, referred to in subsec. (h)(4), is subtitle B (§§211–263) of title II of Pub. L. 94–462, as added by Pub. L. 104–208, div. A, title I, §101(e) [title VII, §702], Sept. 30, 1996, 110 Stat. 3009–233, 3009-295, which is classified generally to subchapter II (§9121 et seq.) of chapter 72 of Title 20, Education. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section 9101 of Title 20 and Tables.

For the effective date of this paragraph under section 1721(h) of the Children's Internet Protection Act, referred to in subsec. (h)(5)(E), (6)(E), as 120 days after Dec. 21, 2000, see §1(a)(4) [div. B, title VII, §1721(h)] of Pub. L. 106–554, set out as an Effective Date of 2000 Amendment note below.

The effective date of this subsection, referred to in subsec. (h)(5)(E), (6)(E), probably means the effective date of subsec. (h)(5) and (6) which is 120 days after Dec. 21, 2000, see §1(a)(4) [div. B, title VII, §1721(h)] of Pub. L. 106–554, set out as an Effective Date of 2000 Amendment note below.

Amendments

2016—Subsec. (h)(7)(B)(vii), (viii). Pub. L. 114–182 added cl. (vii), redesignated former cl. (vii) as (viii), and substituted "clauses (i) through (vii)" for "clauses (i) through (vi)" in cl. (viii).

2015—Subsec. (h)(5)(A)(iii). Pub. L. 114–95, §9215(s)(1), substituted "an elementary school or a secondary school as defined in section 7801 of title 20" for "an elementary or secondary school as defined in section 8801 of title 20".

Subsec. (h)(7)(A). Pub. L. 114–95, §9215(s)(2), made technical amendment to reference in original act which appears in text as reference to section 7801 of title 20.

2008—Subsec. (h)(5)(B)(iii). Pub. L. 110–385 added cl. (iii).

2002—Subsec. (h)(7)(A). Pub. L. 107–110 substituted "section 7801" for "paragraphs (14) and (25), respectively, of section 8801".

2000—Subsec. (h)(4). Pub. L. 106–554, §1(a)(4) [div. B, title XVII, §1721(d)], substituted "paragraph (7)(A)" for "paragraph (5)(A)".

Subsec. (h)(5). Pub. L. 106–554, §1(a)(4) [div. B, title XVII, §1721(a)(2)], added par. (5). Former par. (5) redesignated (7).

Subsec. (h)(6). Pub. L. 106–554, §1(a)(4) [div. B, title XVII, §1721(b)], added par. (6).

Subsec. (h)(7). Pub. L. 106–554, §1(a)(4) [div. B, title XVII, §1721(a)(1)], redesignated par. (5) as (7).

Subsec. (h)(7)(D) to (I). Pub. L. 106–554, §1(a)(4) [div. B, title XVII, §1721(c)], added subpars. (D) to (I).

Subsec. (l). Pub. L. 106–554, §1(a)(4) [div. B, title XVII, §1732], added subsec. (l).

1996—Subsec. (h)(4). Pub. L. 104–208 substituted "library or library consortium not eligible for assistance from a State library administrative agency under the Library Services and Technology Act" for "library not eligible for participation in State-based plans for funds under title III of the Library Services and Construction Act (20 U.S.C. 335c et seq.)".

Effective Date
Effective Date of 2016 Amendment

Pub. L. 114–182, title II, §202(c), June 22, 2016, 130 Stat. 513, provided that: "The amendments made by subsection (a) [amending this section] shall apply beginning on the date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act [June 22, 2016]."

Effective Date of 2015 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 114–95 effective Dec. 10, 2015, except with respect to certain noncompetitive programs and competitive programs, see section 5 of Pub. L. 114–95, set out as a note under section 6301 of Title 20, Education.

Effective Date of 2002 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 107–110 effective Jan. 8, 2002, except with respect to certain noncompetitive programs and competitive programs, see section 5 of Pub. L. 107–110, set out as an Effective Date note under section 6301 of Title 20, Education.

Effective Date of 2000 Amendment

Pub. L. 106–554, §1(a)(4) [div. B, title XVII, §1721(h)], Dec. 21, 2000, 114 Stat. 2763, 2763A-350, provided that: "The amendments made by this section [amending this section and enacting provisions set out as notes under this section and section 7001 of Title 20, Education] shall take effect 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act [Dec. 21, 2000]."

Miscellaneous
Regulations

Pub. L. 106–554, §1(a)(4) [div. B, title XVII, §1721(f)], Dec. 21, 2000, 114 Stat. 2763, 2763A-350, provided that:

"(1) Requirement.—The Federal Communications Commission shall prescribe regulations for purposes of administering the provisions of paragraphs (5) and (6) of section 254(h) of the Communications Act of 1934 [47 U.S.C. 254(h)], as amended by this section.

"(2) Deadline.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Commission shall prescribe regulations under paragraph (1) so as to ensure that such regulations take effect 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act [Dec. 21, 2000]."

Pub. L. 106–554, §1(a)(4) [div. B, title XVII, §1733], Dec. 21, 2000, 114 Stat. 2763, 2763A-351, provided that: "Not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act [Dec. 21, 2000], the Federal Communications Commission shall prescribe regulations for purposes of section 254(l) of the Communications Act of 1934 [47 U.S.C. 254(l)], as added by section 1732 of this Act."

Savings Clause

Pub. L. 114–182, title II, §202(b), June 22, 2016, 130 Stat. 512, provided that: "Nothing in subsection (a) [amending this section] shall be construed to affect the aggregate annual cap on Federal universal service support for health care providers under section 54.675 of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations, or any successor regulation."

Separability

Pub. L. 106–554, §1(a)(4) [div. B, title XVII, §1721(e)], Dec. 21, 2000, 114 Stat. 2763, 2763A-350, provided that: "If any provision of paragraph (5) or (6) of section 254(h) of the Communications Act of 1934 [47 U.S.C. 254(h)], as amended by this section, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of such paragraph and the application of such paragraph to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby."

Funding for E-Rate Support for Emergency Educational Connections and Devices

Pub. L. 117–2, title VII, §7402, Mar. 11, 2021, 135 Stat. 109, provided that:

"(a) Regulations Required.—Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act [Mar. 11, 2021], the Commission shall promulgate regulations providing for the provision, from amounts made available from the Emergency Connectivity Fund, of support under paragraphs (1)(B) and (2) of section 254(h) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 254(h)) to an eligible school or library, for the purchase during a COVID–19 emergency period of eligible equipment or advanced telecommunications and information services (or both), for use by—

"(1) in the case of a school, students and staff of the school at locations that include locations other than the school; and

"(2) in the case of a library, patrons of the library at locations that include locations other than the library.

"(b) Support Amount.—In providing support under the covered regulations, the Commission shall reimburse 100 percent of the costs associated with the eligible equipment, advanced telecommunications and information services, or eligible equipment and advanced telecommunications and information services, except that any reimbursement of a school or library for the costs associated with any eligible equipment may not exceed an amount that the Commission determines, with respect to the request by the school or library for the reimbursement, is reasonable.

"(c) Emergency Connectivity Fund.—

"(1) Establishment.—There is established in the Treasury of the United States a fund to be known as the 'Emergency Connectivity Fund'.

"(2) Appropriation.—In addition to amounts otherwise available, there is appropriated to the Emergency Connectivity Fund for fiscal year 2021, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated—

"(A) $7,171,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2030, for—

"(i) the provision of support under the covered regulations; and

"(ii) the Commission to adopt, and the Commission and the Universal Service Administrative Company to administer, the covered regulations; and

"(B) $1,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2030, for the Inspector General of the Commission to conduct oversight of support provided under the covered regulations.

"(3) Limitation.—Not more than 2 percent of the amount made available under paragraph (2)(A) may be used for the purposes described in clause (ii) of such paragraph.

"(4) Relationship to universal service contributions.—Support provided under the covered regulations shall be provided from amounts made available from the Emergency Connectivity Fund and not from contributions under section 254(d) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 254(d)).

"(d) Definitions.—In this section:

"(1) Advanced telecommunications and information services.—The term 'advanced telecommunications and information services' means advanced telecommunications and information services, as such term is used in section 254(h) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 254(h)).

"(2) Commission.—The term 'Commission' means the Federal Communications Commission.

"(3) Connected device.—The term 'connected device' means a laptop computer, tablet computer, or similar end-user device that is capable of connecting to advanced telecommunications and information services.

"(4) Covered regulations.—The term 'covered regulations' means the regulations promulgated under subsection (a).

"(5) COVID–19 emergency period.—The term 'COVID–19 emergency period' means a period that—

"(A) begins on the date of a determination by the Secretary of Health and Human Services pursuant to section 319 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 247d) that a public health emergency exists as a result of COVID–19; and

"(B) ends on the June 30 that first occurs after the date that is 1 year after the date on which such determination (including any renewal thereof) terminates.

"(6) Eligible equipment.—The term 'eligible equipment' means the following:

"(A) Wi-Fi hotspots.

"(B) Modems.

"(C) Routers.

"(D) Devices that combine a modem and router.

"(E) Connected devices.

"(7) Eligible school or library.—The term 'eligible school or library' means an elementary school, secondary school, or library (including a Tribal elementary school, Tribal secondary school, or Tribal library) eligible for support under paragraphs (1)(B) and (2) of section 254(h) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 254(h)).

"(8) Emergency connectivity fund.—The term 'Emergency Connectivity Fund' means the fund established under subsection (c)(1).

"(9) Library.—The term 'library' includes a library consortium.

"(10) Wi-fi.—The term 'Wi-Fi' means a wireless networking protocol based on Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers standard 802.11 (or any successor standard).

"(11) Wi-fi hotspot.—The term 'Wi-Fi hotspot' means a device that is capable of—

"(A) receiving advanced telecommunications and information services; and

"(B) sharing such services with a connected device through the use of Wi-Fi."

FCC COVID–19 Telehealth Program

Pub. L. 116–260, div. N, title IX, §903, Dec. 27, 2020, 134 Stat. 2128, provided that:

"(a) Definitions.—In this section—

"(1) the term 'appropriate congressional committees' means—

"(A) the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate; and

"(B) the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House of Representatives;

"(2) the term 'Commission' means the Federal Communications Commission; and

"(3) the term 'COVID–19 Telehealth Program' or 'Program' means the COVID–19 Telehealth Program established by the Commission under the authority provided under the heading 'salaries and expenses' under the heading 'Federal Communications Commission' under the heading 'INDEPENDENT AGENCIES' in title V of division B of the CARES Act (Public Law 116–136; 134 Stat. 531).

"(b) Additional Appropriation.—Out of amounts in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, there is appropriated $249,950,000 in additional funds for the COVID–19 Telehealth Program, of which $50,000 shall be transferred by the Commission to the Inspector General of the Commission for oversight of the COVID–19 Telehealth Program.

"(c) Administrative Provisions.—

"(1) Evaluation of applications.—

"(A) Public notice.—Not later than 10 days after the date of enactment of this Act [Dec. 27, 2020], the Commission shall issue a Public Notice establishing a 10-day period during which the Commission will seek comments on—

"(i) the metrics the Commission should use to evaluate applications for funding under this section; and

"(ii) how the Commission should treat applications filed during the funding rounds for awards from the COVID–19 Telehealth Program using amounts appropriated under the CARES Act (Public Law 116–36 [116–136]; 134 Stat. 281).

"(B) Congressional notice.—After the end of the comment period under subparagraph (A), and not later than 15 days before the Commission first commits funds under this section, the Commission shall provide notice to the appropriate congressional committees of the metrics the Commission plans to use to evaluate applications for those funds.

"(2) Equitable distribution.—To the extent feasible, the Commission shall ensure, in providing assistance under the COVID–19 Telehealth Program from amounts made available under subsection (b), that not less than 1 applicant in each of the 50 States and the District of Columbia has received funding from the Program since the inception of the Program, unless there is no such applicant eligible for such assistance in a State or in the District of Columbia, as the case may be.

"(3) Previous applicants.—The Commission shall allow an applicant who filed an application during the funding rounds for awards from the COVID–19 Telehealth Program using amounts appropriated under the CARES Act (Public Law 116–36 [116–136]; 134 Stat. 281) the opportunity to update or amend that application as necessary.

"(4) Information.—To the extent feasible, the Commission shall provide each applicant for funding from the COVID–19 Telehealth Program, if requested, with—

"(A) information on the status of the application; and

"(B) a rationale for the final funding decision for the application, after making that decision.

"(5) Denial.—If the Commission chooses to deny an application for funding from the COVID–19 Telehealth Program, the Commission shall—

"(A) issue notice to the applicant of the intent of the Commission to deny the application and the grounds for that decision;

"(B) provide the applicant with 10 days to submit any supplementary information that the applicant determines relevant; and

"(C) consider any supplementary information submitted under subparagraph (B) in making any final decision with respect to the application.

"(d) Report to Congress.—Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, and every 30 days thereafter until all funds made available under this section have been expended, the Commission shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the distribution of funds appropriated for the COVID–19 Telehealth Program under the CARES Act (Public Law 116–36 [116–136]; 134 Stat. 281) or under this section, which shall include—

"(1) non-identifiable and aggregated data on deficient and rejected applications;

"(2) non-identifiable and aggregated data on applications for which no award determination was made;

"(3) information on the total number of applicants;

"(4) information on the total dollar amount of requests for awards made under this section; and

"(5) information on applicant outreach and technical assistance.

"(e) Paperwork Reduction Act Requirements.—A collection of information conducted or sponsored under any regulations required to implement this section shall not constitute a collection of information for the purposes of subchapter I of chapter 35 of title 44, United States Code (commonly referred to as the 'Paperwork Reduction Act')."

Methodology for Collection of Mobile Service Coverage Data

Pub. L. 115–141, div. P, title V, §505, Mar. 23, 2018, 132 Stat. 1094, provided that:

"(a) Definitions.—In this section—

"(1) the term 'commercial mobile data service' has the meaning given the term in section 6001 of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (47 U.S.C. 1401);

"(2) the term 'commercial mobile service' has the meaning given the term in section 332(d) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 332(d));

"(3) the term 'coverage data' means, if commercial mobile service or commercial mobile data service is available, general information about the service, which may include available speed tiers, radio frequency signal levels, and network and performance characteristics; and

"(4) the term 'Universal Service program' means the universal service support mechanisms established under section 254 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 254) and the regulations issued under that section.

"(b) Methodology Established.—Not later than 180 days after the conclusion of the Mobility Fund Phase II Auction, the Commission shall promulgate regulations to establish a methodology that shall apply to the collection of coverage data by the Commission [Federal Communications Commission] for the purposes of—

"(1) the Universal Service program; or

"(2) any other similar program.

"(c) Requirements.—The methodology established under subsection (b) shall—

"(1) contain standard definitions for different available technologies such as 2G, 3G, 4G, and 4G LTE;

"(2) enhance the consistency and robustness of how the data are collected by different parties;

"(3) improve the validity and reliability of coverage data; and

"(4) increase the efficiency of coverage data collection."

Disclaimers Regarding Internet Access and Privacy

Pub. L. 106–554, §1(a)(4) [div. B, title XVII, §1702], Dec. 21, 2000, 114 Stat. 2763, 2763A-336, provided that:

"(a) Disclaimer Regarding Content.—Nothing in this title [see Short Title of 2000 Amendments note set out under section 6301 of Title 20, Education] or the amendments made by this title shall be construed to prohibit a local educational agency, elementary or secondary school, or library from blocking access on the Internet on computers owned or operated by that agency, school, or library to any content other than content covered by this title or the amendments made by this title.

"(b) Disclaimer Regarding Privacy.—Nothing in this title or the amendments made by this title shall be construed to require the tracking of Internet use by any identifiable minor or adult user."

Expedited Review

Pub. L. 106–554, §1(a)(4) [div. B, title XVII, §1741], Dec. 21, 2000, 114 Stat. 2763, 2763A-351, provided that:

"(a) Three-Judge District Court Hearing.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any civil action challenging the constitutionality, on its face, of this title [see Short Title of 2000 Amendments note set out under section 6301 of Title 20, Education] or any amendment made by this title, or any provision thereof, shall be heard by a district court of three judges convened pursuant to the provisions of section 2284 of title 28, United States Code.

"(b) Appellate Review.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an interlocutory or final judgment, decree, or order of the court of three judges in an action under subsection (a) holding this title or an amendment made by this title, or any provision thereof, unconstitutional shall be reviewable as a matter of right by direct appeal to the Supreme Court. Any such appeal shall be filed not more than 20 days after entry of such judgment, decree, or order."

Universal Service Fund Payment Schedule

Pub. L. 105–33, title III, §3006, Aug. 5, 1997, 111 Stat. 269, related to appropriations to the Universal Service Fund in support of programs established pursuant to rules implementing this section and adjustment of payments by telecommunications carriers and other providers of interstate telecommunications prior to repeal by Pub. L. 105–119, title VI, §622, Nov. 26, 1997, 111 Stat. 2521. Section 622 of Pub. L. 105–119 provided further that: "This section shall be deemed a section of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 [Pub. L. 105–33, see Tables for classification] for the purposes of section 10213 of that Act (111 Stat. 712) [2 U.S.C. 902 note], and shall be scored pursuant to paragraph (2) of such section."

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