FCC’s Rosenworcel Seeks Update on Sale of Location DataFCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel announced she has sent letters to major phone companies to confirm whether they have lived up to their commitments to end location aggregation services. She also has asked phone companies to explain what steps they are taking to safeguard location data that previously was sold to third parties. She said: “The FCC needs to do more to protect the privacy and security of American consumers. It needs to do more to provide the public with basic information about what is happening with their real-time location information. That’s why I’m taking steps to ensure for the public that carriers are living up to their commitments to protect their customers’ most sensitive information, because this agency has failed to do so to date.”
The FCC previously indicated it was investigating reports that U.S. phone companies were selling access to their customers’ real-time location information to data aggregators. However, no details about the investigation have been released and the FCC has not taken any public action to ensure the activity has stopped.
The Regulatory Mix Today: FCC’s Rosenworcel Seeks Update on Sale of Location Data, FCC Revises Draft Broadband Deployment Report, FCC Report on Broadband Deployment in Indian Country
FCC Revises Draft Broadband Deployment Report
The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau announced it had provided the Commissioners with a revised draft of the 2019 Broadband Deployment Report. The revision reflects a thorough review of the initial draft triggered by the discovery that a company submitted drastically overstated deployment data to the FCC. According to the Public Notice, the revised report continues to support the conclusion that significant progress has been made in closing the digital divide in America. Specifically:
- Since last year’s report, the number of Americans lacking access to a fixed terrestrial broadband connection meeting the FCC’s advanced telecommunications capability benchmark speed of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps has dropped by over 18%, from 26.1 million Americans at the end of 2016 to 21.3 million at the end of 2017.
- The majority of those gaining access to such high-speed connections, approximately 4.3 million, live in rural America, where broadband deployment has traditionally lagged.
- The number of Americans with access to at least 250 Mbps/25 Mbps broadband grew in 2017 by more than 36%, to 191.5 million.
- The number of rural Americans with access to such broadband increased by 85.1% in 2017.
- The number of Americans with access to 100 Mbps/10 Mbps broadband grew in 2017 by more than 18%, to 288.4 million, while the number of rural Americans with access to such broadband increased by 44% in 2017, to 37.4 million.
Chairman Pai issued the following statement regarding the revised report: “We’re pleased that the FCC’s policy of making deployment data open and transparent to the public resulted in this error being discovered. Fortunately, the new data doesn’t change the report’s fundamental conclusion: we are closing the digital divide, which means we’re delivering on the FCC’s top priority. We’re achieving this result by removing barriers to infrastructure investment, promoting competition, and providing efficient, effective support for rural broadband expansion through our Universal Service Fund programs. I look forward to working with my fellow Commissioners to continue making progress toward that goal in the coming year.”
FCC Report on Broadband Deployment in Indian Country
The FCC released its first report evaluating broadband coverage in Indian country and on land held by a Native Corporation pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The report was required by legislative changes adopted in 2018. The report shows that, while deployment to Tribal lands has increased in recent years, additional work remains to increase deployment to the certain Tribal areas and reach the goal of closing the digital divide for all Americans.
Tribal lands experience lower rates of both fixed and mobile broadband deployment as compared to non-Tribal areas of the United States, particularly in rural areas. For example:
- While 92% of housing units on urban Tribal lands are covered by a fixed terrestrial provider of 25/3 Mbps broadband service—only six points behind their non-Tribal urban counterparts—just 46.6% of housing units on rural Tribal lands have access to that service, a nearly 27-point gap compared to non- Tribal rural areas.
- Mobile LTE coverage on Tribal lands is similarly behind deployment on non-Tribal lands; while 99.8% of the population living on non-Tribal areas are covered by mobile LTE service, only 96% of the population living on Tribal land are covered with such service.
- Generally, individuals living on Tribal lands that are covered have access to fewer carriers providing 4G LTE coverage.
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.
The FCC said it would initiate a proceeding in the near term to address these deployment challenges and help to close the broadband gap on Tribal lands.