Today's Regulatory Mix: FCC Begins TRACED Act Proceedings, FCC February Open Meeting, FCC Procedures For $691M Investment in Puerto Rico & USVI Networks, USDA Rural Broadband Grants
FCC Begins TRACED Act Proceedings
The FCC has initiated the first of the rulemakings required by the TRACED Act. Specifically, it is seeking comment on rules establishing a registration process for a single consortium to conduct private-led efforts to trace back the origin of suspected unlawful robocalls. The rules address: (1) the timing of the annual registration, (2) the content of the registration notice of intent; (3) the criteria that will be used to select a single consortium if multiple registrations are received; and (4) how the annual renewal process will work. Comments will be due 10 days after publication in the Federal Register; reply comments will be due 15 days after publication.
FCC February Open Meeting
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the tentative agenda for the FCC’s February 28, 2020, Open Meeting. The following items will be considered:
- Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Bidding Procedures – A Public Notice that would launch the process of establishing pre- and post-auction application procedures and competitive bidding procedures to allocate up to $16 billion to support the deployment of fixed broadband networks in rural America in Phase I of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.
- Promoting Public Safety Through Information Sharing – The Commission will consider a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would provide state and federal agencies with read-only access to communications outage data for public safety purposes while also preserving the confidentiality of that data.
- Expanding Flexible Use of the C-band – A Report and Order and Proposed Order of Modification that would reform the use of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, also known as the C-band, to promote U.S. leadership in the next generation of wireless services, including fifth-generation (5G) wireless and other advanced spectrum-based services, and close the digital divide.
- C-band Auction Bidding Procedures – A Public Notice that would seek comment on procedures for the auction of new flexible-use overlay licenses in the 3.7–3.98 GHz band (Auction 107) for Next Generation Wireless Services.
- Auction of Priority Access Licenses for the 3.5 GHz Band – A Public Notice that would establish application and bidding procedures for Auction 105, the auction of Priority Access Licenses in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service in the 3550-3650 MHz band.
- TV White Spaces – A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would propose targeted changes to the white space device rules in the TV bands (channels 2-35) to provide improved broadband coverage that would benefit American consumers in rural and underserved areas.
- Electronic Delivery of Carriage Election Notices – A Report and Order that would modernize the carriage election notice provisions in the FCC’s Rules for low-power TV and noncommercial educational translator stations, which are not required to maintain online public inspection files.
- Amending Record Requirements on Cable Operator Interests in Video Programming –A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would seek comment on whether to eliminate or modify the requirement in the FCC’s Rules that cable operators’ attributable interests in video programming services.
FCC Procedures for $691M Investment in Puerto Rico & USVI Networks
The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau released a Public Notice establishing the procedures for its investment of up to $691.2 million over the next ten years to support the deployment of advanced, hardened broadband and voice networks to all locations in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
This is the second stage in the agency’s rollout of support to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This stage allocates more than $500 million over ten years in fixed broadband support through the Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund. It also allocates more than $180 million over ten years for fixed broadband support through the Connect USVI Fund. This funding stage will use a competitive process to award support for fixed voice and broadband services based on the weighting of price and network performance, including speed, latency, and usage allowance. The FCC will release an application form, instructions, and announce the application deadline soon, following approval by the Office of Management and Budget. The FCC also has allocated up to $258.8 million in support for mobile service, including 5G, in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands over a three-year period.
“Every step closer to providing this funding is a step in the right direction,” said Kris Monteith, Chief of the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau. “Laying out this clear, manageable, and predictable process will ensure we get the best impact possible from this investment of funds. Bridging the digital divide is the agency’s top priority under Chairman Ajit Pai and we’ve put a special emphasis on helping connect Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Today is a big day in that effort.”
USDA Rural Broadband Grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $4.4 million investment in high-speed broadband infrastructure in Georgia through its ReConnect Pilot Program. The investment will support the construction of 90 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure in Gilmer County. The service area includes 2,159 households, 25 pre-subscribed businesses, two critical community facilities, an educational facility and 24 pre-subscribed farms, including 22 poultry farms.
For this grant, the USDA will partner with Ellijay Telephone Company. The company, founded in 1903, is a technology leader in Gilmer, Fannin, Cherokee and Pickens counties in north Georgia. It offers cable television, telephone, security services and broadband solutions for business, commercial and residential subscribers.
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.