Government Relations Update August 2023

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Internet2 Files Comments on USF Reform in Collaboration with The Quilt and CENIC

On July 27, 2023, U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), the co-chairs of the Senate’s Universal Service Fund (USF) Working Group, announced that they were seeking public input on what Congress can and should do to improve, sustain, and grow USF and the programs it supports to ensure Americans have access to affordable and reliable telecommunications services, including broadband. The announcement opened a 30-day period for comment submissions that closed on August 25, 2023.

Internet2, in collaboration with The Quilt and the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California (CENIC), filed comments in response to the USF Working Group’s request to highlight the unique issues at stake for the research and education (R&E) community in this debate. In the filing, Internet2 described the unique role it and the R&E community at large have played in serving researchers, students, and community anchor institutions of all shapes and sizes with specialized support that stands apart from the mass market and common carrier services that are the concern of commercial providers. The FCC has historically recognized this distinction and exempted Internet2 and the regional and state education networks (RENs) represented by The Quilt from regulations intended for mass-market, for-profit retail services. 

Internet2’s filing focused on bringing the USF Working Group’s attention to these important historical and precedential factors as they weigh potential reforms for USF. Without a continuation of these exemptions, Internet2 and the RENs will not be able to continue to deliver the benefits of the services we provide to communities across the nation as we have for more than two decades.

The Working Group – which also includes U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – received 98 comments and is currently in the process of reviewing them. It is unclear what next steps the Senators may announce at the conclusion of this process, but Internet2 looks forward to playing a constructive role in supporting Congress as it considers reshaping USF and in ensuring that the unique needs of the R&E community are met by whatever comes next.

For more information about Internet2’s filing and the context surrounding this proceeding, please check out our recent blog post.

NSF Announces New Funding for Quantum Research at R&E Institutions

On August 15, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced a new investment of $38 million to empower more institutions engaging in quantum information science and engineering (QISE) research activities. The funding comes from NSF’s Expanding Capacity in Quantum Information Science and Engineering (ExpandQISE) program, which was designed to help grow QISE research capacity at R&E institutions nationwide. This program resulted from the 2018 passage of the National Quantum Initiative Act (Pub. L. 115-368), legislation that directed federal resources to ensure continued U.S. leadership in science and engineering as it expands into quantum applications.

The $38 million of newly dedicated funds will support 22 projects at 21 R&E institutions. The projects are drawn from a wide variety of subjects including physics, computer sciences, materials research, engineering, and chemistry. Of the institutions selected for funding this year, 11 are Internet2 members:

  • Morgan State University
  • South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
  • University of Northern Iowa
  • Wichita State University
  • University of New Orleans
  • Kennesaw State University
  • Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • Miami University
  • Rutgers University at Newark
  • Marquette University

Successful applicants in this round of funding also include six historically Black colleges and universities, three Hispanic-serving institutions, and five institutions in jurisdictions participating in EPSCor. Additional information about each of these projects as well as those selected for last year’s round of funding is available on the NSF awards portal.

Want more Internet2 Government Relations news? Read past editions of the Government Relations update.