On November 21, 2011, the Commission entered an order establishing the Nebraska Broadband Pilot Program (NEBP). The NEBP was established to provide specific and targeted broadband support to unserved and underserved areas to close the broadband availability gap. Nebraska is one of only four states in the nation with a universal service program to fund broadband deployment, and it provides the second greatest amount of total funding among the states with such programs. NEBP grants are available to regulated wireline, wireless, and unregulated communications providers wishing to participate.
The NEBP was developed through a generic proceeding docketed as NUSF-77. This docket was originally opened on January 26, 2010 to update policies and procedures related to universal service. However, the focus in that proceeding progressed towards investigating whether broadband services should be explicitly supported by the Nebraska universal service program similar to corresponding federal changes. The Commission sought numerous rounds of comments and held several public hearings to determine the legality, the policy and the potential framework of a pilot broadband program. The Commission studied other state broadband grant programs to gather best practices used by these states to quickly and efficiently target areas without sufficient broadband availability.
In its November 21, 2011 Order, the Commission found support should be made available for broadband capital improvement projects. The Commission also determined that any type of facilities-based provider would be eligible to apply for and receive NEBP support. The Commission further created a baseline set of eligibility requirements.