US Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) have called on the FCC to address reports it pressured wireless service providers to file frivolous lawsuits in several federal courts in an attempt to move a Ninth Circuit lawsuit challenging the legality of a recent 5G wireless deployment rule. “Even though additional cases filed by wireless carriers in separate jurisdictions were eventually transferred back to the Ninth Circuit, the reason for their filing in the first place remains a concern,” the senators wrote. “Pressuring entities that are regulated by the FCC to file frivolous litigation in order to game the system, and potentially threatening companies if they fail to comply, would be an unacceptable abuse of power and raise serious ethical concerns.”
The Senators sought the FCC’s response to several questions by February 8, 2019, including whether any individual employed by or affiliated with the FCC discussed challenging the Order with an FCC licensee, discussed that licensee’s potential or actual challenge to the Order, or threatened to take adverse action against a FCC licensee that refused to challenge the Order in court.
Earlier this month, several House members sent similar letters to the FCC. See the Regulatory Mix dated 1/25/19.
The Regulatory Mix Today: Senators Questions FCC About Small Cell Appeals, New FCC Commissioner Sworn In, Mississippi to Allow Electric Coops to Offer Broadband Services, US Senate 5G Hearing
New FCC Commissioner Sworn In
Geoffrey Starks was sworn in as the newest FCC Commissioner and issued a statement saying: “I am deeply honored to serve as a Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, and I thank the President and the United States Senate for this exceptional privilege. As the last few weeks have affirmed, being a public servant is a calling to serve a mission bigger than yourself. Throughout my career, I have focused on protecting the most vulnerable and holding wrongdoers accountable.
“In my new role, I shall not only continue to pursue those goals, but also look forward to working with Congress, my fellow Commissioners, and the FCC’s outstanding staff to serve the public interest by encouraging innovation, competition, and security, as well as advancing policies to increase the quality, availability, and affordability of our country’s communications services. Every community has a stake in the future of communications in this country, and all have the right to be heard. I will always be listening.”
In a separate Public Notice, he announced the appointment of several individuals who will serve in his office in acting capacities. This includes acting advisors for wireless, international, wireline, and public safety issues.
Commissioner Starks’ arrival marks the first time since last June that the FCC is at its full complement of Commissioners.
US Senate 5G Hearing
U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced he will convene the first full committee hearing of the 116th Congress titled, “Winning the Race to 5G and the Next Era of Technology Innovation in the United States” on February 6, 2019. The hearing will focus on key steps to maintain U.S. global leadership in next-generation communications technology, spectrum needs to accelerate deployment, and new applications and services consumers can expect with 5G deployments. The hearing will also examine current efforts to modernize infrastructure siting policies and the security of 5G networks.
“The committee’s first hearing on 5G deployment and technology innovation will highlight an important issue not only to Mississippians, but to all Americans,” said Wicker. “Expanding broadband service and fostering innovation are top priorities of mine, and I look forward to continuing the committee’s efforts to close the digital divide in our nation and maintain U.S. leadership in 5G technology.”
- The Honorable Meredith Atwell Baker, President and CEO, CTIA
- Mr. Steve Berry, President and CEO, Competitive Carriers Association
- Mr. Shailen Bhatt, President and CEO, Intelligent Transportation Society of America
- Mr. Michael Wessel, Commissioner, U.S.-China Economic & Security Review Commission
- Ms. Kim Zentz, Chief Executive Officer, Urbanova
Mississippi to Allow Electric Coops to Offer Broadband Services
The Governor of Mississippi has now signed HB 366, which authorizes an electric coop to permit a broadband affiliate or unaffiliated broadband provider to own, lease, construct, maintain and operate a broadband system on the coop’s electric delivery system to provider broadband services to the public. The coop may not, however, charge its affiliate less than it charges an unaffiliated entity for the same service, including pole attachments or use its electric revenues to subsidize the provision of broadband services. The coop may make capital investments in an affiliate, make loans to it, and enter into loan guarantees for the benefit of the affiliate. Prior to offering broadband service the coop must conduct a feasibility study and may not allow the installation of the broadband system to diminish the reliability of its electric delivery system. Finally, the coop may neither force its customers to use its broadband system or disconnect a customer’s electric service for failure to pay bills for the broadband service. See the Regulatory Mix dated 1/23/19.
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.
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