Today's Regulatory Mix: US House FCC Oversight Hearing, FCC Seeks Comment on HCLA Average Schedule Formula, FCC Extends E-Rate and RHC Covid-19 Rule Waivers,
US House FCC Oversight Hearing
Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) announced that the Communications and Technology Subcommittee will hold a fully remote hearing on oversight of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with all five commissioners on Thursday, September 17, at 10 a.m. (EDT). The hearing is entitled, “Trump FCC: Four Years of Lost Opportunities.”
“After four years, this FCC has failed to make broadband any more affordable for consumers, which has exacerbated the digital divide,” said Pallone and Doyle. “Worse yet, they have not used all the tools at their disposal to blunt the terrible impact COVID-19 has had on Americans struggling to stay connected to schools, work and needed services. We look forward to questioning the commissioners on these and other issues next week.”
FCC Seeks Comment On HCLS Average Schedule Formula
The FCC is seeking comment the National Exchange Carrier Association, Inc. (NECA)’s 2021 Modification of the Average Schedule Universal Service High Cost Loop Support Formula. If the proposed formula in the NECA filing is approved, it would take effect on January 1, 2021, and remain in effect through December 31, 2021. Comments are due October 5, 2020, and reply comments are due October 20,2020.
FCC Extends E-Rate and RHC COVID-19 Rule Waivers
The FCC extended, until December 31, 2020, its prior waivers of Rural Health Care (RHC) and E-rate rules to assist RHC and E-rate participants responding to COVID-19. Specifically, the FCC: (1) extended its waivers of the RHC and E-Rate program gift rules through December 31, 2020; (2) extended the 14-day response deadline for RHC program-related USAC information requests through December 31, 2020; and (3) directed USAC to give an additional 30 days to E-Rate program participants that request extensions to respond to: information requests issued through December 31, 2020 and related to pending USAC appeals; invoices; FCC Form 500 (Funding Commitment Adjustment Request Form) requests; audits, including Beneficiary and Contributor Audit Program (BCAP) and Payment Quality Assurance (PQA) audits; and PIA requests.
The gift rule waiver will permit service providers to continue to offer, and eligible RHC and E-Rate entities to continue to solicit and accept, improved capacity, Wi-Fi hotspots, networking gear, or other things of value to assist health care providers, schools and libraries, as well as doctors and patients, teachers, students, school administrators, and librarians and patrons during the coronavirus outbreak. As before, these gifts may include but are not limited to free upgrades to connections, connected devices, equipment, and other services for RHC and E-Rate program participants who provide care via telemedicine and free broadband connections, devices, or other services that support remote learning for students and teachers who will be taking classes at and providing instruction from home as a result of COVID-19. The previous waivers were set to expire September 30. 2020.
Recent Briefings from Inteserra:
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.