Today's Regulatory Mix: FCC Announces More Companies Signed on to the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, FCC Issues Consumer Advisory On COVID-19 Scams, FCC Guidance On Non-US Banks Letters of Credit
FCC Announces More Companies Signed on to the Keep Americans Connected Pledge
The FCC announced that 205 additional broadband and phone service providers have taken the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, bringing the total number of companies to 390. By taking the Pledge, each of these companies has committed for the next 60 days to (1) not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic; (2) waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and (3) open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.
“I’m gratified by the overwhelming response by American broadband and telephone service providers to my call for them to ensure consumers stay connected during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Chairman Pai. “It is important during this crisis that Americans can keep in touch with family and friends while practicing social distancing, telework, and take part in remote learning and telehealth. I thank all those who are working to Keep Americans Connected and continue to find ways to help consumers meet their needs in light of the pandemic.”
New pledge-takers include: AcenTek, Alenco Communications, All West Communications, Alliance Communications, ALLO Communications, Amery Telecom, Amherst Telephone Company, Arlington Telephone Company, Armstrong, ATC Communications, Aristotle Unified Communications, Bandwidth, Baraga Telephone Company, Beaver Creek Cooperative Telephone Company, Beehive Broadband, BEK Communications, Benkelman Telephone Company, Bergen Telephone Company, Beulahland Communications, The Blair Telephone Company, Bracken Cable, Btel Fiber, Bijou Telephone Co-Op, Bloomingdale Home Telephone Company, Bolt Internet, Bresco Broadband, Broadband VI, BWTelecom, Cambio Broadband, Casco Communications, Cass Telephone Company, CentraCom, Central Texas Telecommunications, Central Texas Telephone Cooperative, Chickasaw Telephone Company, Choice Wireless, ClearWave Communications, Colfax Cable, Common Networks, Community Wireless, Comporium, Consolidated Companies, Consolidated Telecommunications, Cordova Telephone Company, Cozad Telephone Company, Craigville Telephone Company, Dakota Carrier Network, Dakota Central, DayStarr Communications, DC Access, Dickey Rural Networks, Diller Telephone Company, DirectLink, Eagle Telephone System, Eastern Nebraska Telephone Company, EMPOWER Broadband, Endeavor Communications, Enhanced Telecommunications Corporation, EPLUS Broadband, Etex Telephone Cooperative, F&B Communications, Fidelity Communications, GeoLinks, Gila River Telecommunications, Golden Belt Telephone Association, Grantsburg Telecom, Griggs County Telephone Company, Gunnison Telephone Company, GVTC Communications, Hamilton Communications, Hartman Telephone Exchanges, Henderson Cooperative Telephone Company, Holway Telephone Company, Horry Telephone Cooperative, HTC, Hudson Valley Wireless, IAMO Communications, Jade Communications, James Valley Telecommunications, James Valley Wireless, Kalida Telephone Company, Kennebec Telephone Company, Kit Carson Internet, KLM Telephone Company, Kloud Konnect, Kuhn Communications, Kwikom Communications, LaValle Telephone Cooperative, Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico, LICT Corporation, Lightburst Broadband, Lightstream, Ligonier Telephone, LigTel Communications, Limestone Cable, LISCO, Loop Internet, Manti Tele Communications Company, Manti Telephone Company, Masergy Communications, Michigan Broadband Services, Middleburgh Telephone Company, MLGC, Mobile Beacon, Monkeybrains, Monon Telephone Company, Monroe Telephone Company, Moundridge Telephone Company, MTE Communications, NATCO Communications, NCC, Nebraska Central Telephone Company, Neptuno, NeuBeam, New Lisbon Broadband and Communications, New Lisbon Telephone Company, New Paris Telephone, NewWave Communications, NiTCO, North Dakota Telephone Company, Northeast Louisiana Telephone Company, Northern Valley Communications, Northland Communications, NorthState, Nortex Communications, Northwest Communications, Paul Bunyan Communications, Pennsylvania Telephone Company, Pierce Telecommunications, Pine Drive Telephone Company, Pioneer Telephone Cooperative, Plainview Telephone Company, Plateau Telecommunications, Poka Lambro Telephone Cooperative, Puerto Rico Telephone Company/Claro, PVT Networks, Red Spectrum, RG Fiber, Rise Broadband, Riviera Telephone Company, Rochester Telephone Company, Rock County Telephone Company, RTC (North Dakota), RTC Communications, RTI, S&T Telecom, St. John Cable, San Carlos Apache Telecommunications, Sand Creek Communications, Santel Communications Cooperative, SCI/Savage Communications, SCTelecom, Service Electric Cablevision, Sharon Telephone Company, Smith Bagley, Smithville Communications, Somerset Telephone Company, SOS Communications, South Plains Telephone Cooperative, Southern Kansas Telephone Company, Springcom, Springport Telephone Company, Stanton Telecom, Strata Networks, StratusIQ, STT Rural Net, TCC Networks, TCC Skywire NW, Tele-Media Solutions, Three Rivers Digital, Three Rivers Telco, Ting Internet, ToledoTel, Totah Communications, TruVista Communications, Tularosa Basin Telephone, Turtle Mountain Communications, Twin Valley Telephone, Union Telephone Company, United Communications, United Communications Association and United Telephone Association, USConnect, US Internet, Valley Connections, Valley FiberCom, Valley Telephone Cooperative, Venture Communications, Verona Networks, Viya, VTX1, Watch Communications, Wauneta Telephone Company, Westphalia Broadband, Westphalia Telephone Company, West River Cooperative Telephone Company, Wilson Communications, Winn Telecom, Winn Telephone Company, Wisper Internet, WispWest, Wittenberg Telephone Company, XIT Rural Telephone, Yadkin Valley Telephone Company, YK Communications, and ZIRKEL Wireless.
Additionally, the associations SIA—Satellite Industry Association and WTA—Advocates for
Rural Broadband have endorsed the Pledge.
FCC Issues Consumer Advisory On COVID-19 Scams
The FCC announced the launch of a COVID-19 Consumer Warnings and Safety Tips webpage – https://www.fcc.gov/covidscams – to alert consumers to the proliferation of scam phone calls and texts related to the coronavirus pandemic. Scammers are promoting bogus cures, offering fake test kits, sending hoax text messages, and generally preying on virus-related fears. The webpage includes sample audio from actual scams, including:
- Free home testing kits
- Scams targeting diabetics who use insulin
- Coronavirus HVAC cleaning
“We’re tracking scams and sharing information to arm consumers about how imposters use spoofing and other tactics to steal their money and their identity,” said Patrick Webre, Chief of the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau. “The FCC fights these types of scams through enforcement of its rules, but our primary goal is to be proactive so Americans don’t fall victim to these bad actors.” The page will be updated as new scams surface.
FCC Guidance On Non-US Banks Letters of Credit
The FCC announced that a non-U.S. bank that has a branch office located in New York City, New York and will accept a letter of credit draw certificate from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) via overnight courier, in addition to in-person presentations, will be now considered qualified to issue letters of credit if the bank also meets the Commission’s other non-U.S. bank eligibility requirements. This applies to CAF II support recipients as well as bidders in the upcoming Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction. Currently, the FCC only accepts letters of credit from non-U.S. banks that have a branch office in Washington, D.C.
The FCC said that the ease of travel between Washington, D.C. and New York City (under normal circumstances) coupled with USAC’s ability to submit a draw certificate in person or via overnight courier will ensure that USAC and the Bureau can promptly draw on the letter of credit in the event of default. The FCC emphasized that it will continue to evaluate the eligibility of all non-U.S. banks on a case-by-case basis to ensure that they also meet the other eligibility requirements at the time that letter of credit commitment letters are submitted and letters of credit are issued.
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.