Today's Regulatory Mix: FCC Launches Hospital Robocall Protection Group, Keep Americans Connected Pledge Signees Continues to Grow, FCC Revises Auction Schedules
FCC Launches Hospital Robocall Protection Group
The FCC announced the formation of the Hospital Robocall Protection Group, a new federal advisory committee dedicated to combatting robocalls to hospitals. The group will focus on issuing best practices on how phone companies can better combat unlawful robocalls made to hospitals, as well as how hospitals can better protect themselves from such calls. Group was created as a result of the TRACED Act.
The FCC also seeks nominations for membership on and a Chairperson to the Group. The FCC intends to establish the Group by June 2020 and anticipates holding the first meeting of the group in July 2020. As required by the TRACED Act, it is anticipated that the Group will complete its work of developing best practices within 180 days of its establishment. All nominations should be received by the Commission as soon as possible, but no later than May 1, 2020. Members of the group will include voice service providers that serve hospitals, companies that focus on mitigating unlawful robocalls, consumer advocacy organizations. providers of one-way VoIP services, hospitals, state government officials focused on combating unlawful robocalls, one representative of the FCC. and one representative of the FTC.
“The idea that robocallers would clog up hospital phone lines with a flood of nuisance calls seems unthinkable, but it is a reality,” said Chairman Ajit Pai. “Health care facilities are critically important, especially in the face of the current pandemic, and the last thing they should have to worry about is receiving robocalls that distract from performing their mission—supporting the health and well-being of all Americans. By establishing the Hospital Robocall Protection Group, we’re focusing our efforts on the negative impacts robocalls can have on our health care system. I look forward to working with committee members to find ways to help those who help us.”
Keep Americans Connected Pledge Signees Continues to Grow
The FCC announced that 580 broadband and telephone service providers have now taken Chairman Pai's Keep Americans Connected Pledge, an increase of 190 from last Thursday. Chairman Pai also commended providers that have responded to his call to go above and beyond the Pledge by taking additional pro-consumer actions to enhance Americans’ connectivity during the coronavirus pandemic. By taking the Pledge, a broadband or telephone service provider commits 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.
New pledge-takers include: Agate Mutual Telephone, Agile Network Builders, AirFiber, Amplex, ANI Networks, Arlington TV Cooperative, Arvig, Astrea, Barnesville Municipal Telephone and Internet, Bays-ET Highspeed, Beresford Municipal Telephone, Blanca Networks, Blue Ridge Communications, Bluebird Network, Bravado Wireless, Bristol Tennessee Essential Services, Bulloch Telephone Cooperative, BullsEye Telecom, Cal-Ore Telephone Co., Calaveras Telephone Company, Callabyte Technology, Cambridge Telephone Co., Cameron Communications, Cameron Telephone Company, Cass Cable TV, CDE Lightband, Celerity Networks, Christensen Communications Company, Chugwater Telephone, Cimarron Telephone Company, Citizens Telephone Cooperative, City of Bardstown, Kentucky, Co-Mo Connect, Coast Communications Co., Coleman County Telephone Cooperative , Colorado Valley Communications, Colorado Valley Telephone Cooperative, COLTONTEL, Conifer Communications, Conterra Networks, CopperNet Systems, CresComm Wifi, Cross Telephone Company, Crown Castle, Custer Telephone Cooperative, Dojo Networks, Douglas Fast Net, Ducor Telephone Company, Eastern Indiana Wifi, Elizabeth Telephone Company, Ellington Telecom, EM3 Networks, EPB Chattanooga, Farmers Telephone, FastTrack Communications, Firefly Fiber Broadband, Foresthill Telephone Co., Fourway.NET, Free Conferencing Corporation, Fusion, Fusion Cloud Company, Fusion Cloud Services, Fusion Communications, Fusion Telecom of Kansas, Fusion Telecom of Missouri, Fusion Telecom of Oklahoma, Fusion Texas Holdings, Gardonville Cooperative Telephone Association, Getwireless.net, Google Fi, Grand Telephone Company, H & B Communications, Haefele Connect, Halstad Telephone, Harmony Telephone Company, Hemingford Cooperative Telephone Company, Home Telephone Co., HomeTel, IGL TeleConnect, Inland Cellular, Intelligent Computing Solutions, ITS, ITS Fiber, KanOkla Networks, Kerman Telephone Company, KM Telecom, La Ward Communications, La Ward Telephone Exchange, Lake Livingston Telephone Company, Lakeside Networks, LARIAT.NET, LCI Fiber Optic Network, Lincolnville Telephone, Lingo Communications, Lipan Telephone, Lismore Coop Tel Co., Logix Fiber Networks, Lonsdale Telephone Company, McCormack / Ellington Telecom, MiBroadband, Mid-States Services, Minburn Communications, Missouri Valley Communications, Mobius Communications Company, Monitor Telecom, Morristown Utilities, Mountain West Technologies, Mulberry Telecommunications, Mutual Telephone Company, Myakka Communications, Nemont Communications, Nemont Telephone Cooperative, Nex-Tech Wireless, Next Powered by NAEC, NNTC Wireless, Northwest Ohio Broadband, NOS Communications, NTUA Wireless, Nucla-Naturita Telephone Company, NUconnect, Nunn Telephone, NWN Corporation, OACYS Technology, OEC Fiber, OptimERA, OTELCO, Otter Tail Telcom, OzarksGo, Park Region Mutual Telephone Company, PD Fiber, Peoples Rural Telephone Cooperative, PGTelco, Piedmont Communications, Pinnacles Telephone Co., Pinpoint Communications, Plains Cooperative Telephone, Planters Telephone Cooperative, Ponderosa Telephone Co., Pottawatomie Telephone Company, Project Telephone Company, ProValue.Net, Public Service Telephone Co., Quantum Internet and Telephone, Randolph Communications, Resonance Broadband, RiverStreet Networks, Roggen Telephone Cooperative, Rothsay Telephone Company, Runestone Telecom Association, Sagebrush Cellular, SecureNetMD, SEI Communications, Sierra Telephone Company, SinglePoint Global, Siskiyou Telephone Company, Slopeside Internet, Southwest Minnesota Broadband Service, SPITwSPOTS, Splash Wireless Internet, Spring Grove Communications, Star Communications, Surry Communications, Swiftel Communications, Swyft Connect, Taylor Telecom, TEC, Telemedia Solutions, Terra Nova Telecom, ThinkSecureNet, Tidewater Telecom, Total Highspeed, TWN Communications, United Fiber, United Wireless Communications, Valley Telephone Company, Vergennes Broadband, Vermont Telephone Co., Volcano Telephone Company, VTel Wireless, West Central Wireless, Wheat State Technologies, Wide Voice, Wiggins Telephone, Wilkes Communications, Winchester Wireless, Wind River Internet, Winnebago Cooperative Telecom Association, WOW! Internet, Cable & Phone, WTC, and Wyandotte Cable.
Additionally, the Cloud Communications Alliance, Rural Wireless Association, and Telecom Alliance have endorsed the Pledge.
FCC Revises Auction Schedules
The FCC announced schedule changes for Auction 105 as well as the postponement of Auction 106. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, these changes were deemed necessary in order to protect the health and safety of FCC staff and to allow parties additional time to prepare to participate in Auctions 105 and 106.
For Auction 105, involving the auction of Priority Access Licenses for the 3550-3650 MHz band, the short-form application (FCC Form 175) filing window will now open on April 23, 2020 at 12 p.m. EDT and will close on May 7 at 6 p.m. EDT. Upfront payments will be due June 19. Bidding will begin on July 23. The Auction 105 Public Notice is available here.
The FCC is postponing indefinitely Auction 106, an auction of construction permits in the FM broadcast service that was scheduled to begin on April 28. Auction 106 applicants that submitted upfront payments may obtain a refund of those deposits after submitting a written request. Additional processes are outlined here. A revised schedule will be announced in a future public notice.
In response to the changes, FCC Chairman Pai issued a statement saying: “Many Americans have had to make tough decisions on how they do business in this rapidly changing environment, and the FCC is no different. After consulting agency staff within the relevant Bureaus and Offices, we determined that it was in everyone’s best interest to make these changes. But we remain committed to holding the 3.5 GHz auction this summer and look forward to beginning this important mid-band auction in July.”
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.