Today's Regulatory Mix: NARUC Adopts Resolutions on Inmate Rates, and Disaster Reporting, FCC Releases Agenda for November Open Meeting, FCC Releases Data on 2019 Broadband Deployment
NARUC Adopts Resolutions on Inmate Rates, and Disaster Reporting
At its Annual Meeting, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners adopted two telecom resolutions. The first resolution addresses inmate calling service rates. It acknowledges that “things have improved” in prisons since the issue of high rates was first raised in 2012, but that “problems” remain in county and city run jails. It also recognizes that state legislatures are best positioned to address this issue by allocating additional authority to their State commissions to investigate and assure cost-based fees. Therefore, it “draws attention to” the ability of State legislatures and commission to consider possible legislation and rulemakings so that state commissions can assure inmate calls are cost-based.
The other resolution addresses state access to the FCC’s Network Outage Reporting System (NORS) and Disaster Information Reporting System (DIS) filings. It urges the FCC to expeditiously take action in its outstanding rulemaking that would allow state commissions and other state emergency agencies to have direct secure access to State-specific NORS and DIRS filings, subject to appropriate safeguards between the FCC and the PUCs regarding confidential information, and take the necessary steps to effectuate that access.
FCC Releases Agenda for November Open Meeting
The FCC announced the final agenda for its November 18, 2020, Open Meeting. The items are as follows:
- Expanding the Contribution Base for Accessible Communications Services: A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would propose expansion of the Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) Fund contribution base for supporting Video Relay Service (VRS) and Internet Protocol Relay Service (IP Relay) to include intrastate telecommunications revenue, as a way of strengthening the funding base for these forms of TRS and making it more equitable without increasing the size of the Fund itself.
- Modernizing the 5.9 GHz Band – A First Report and Order, Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and Order of Proposed Modification that would adopt rules to repurpose 45 megahertz of spectrum in the 5.850-5.895 GHz band for unlicensed operations, retain 30 megahertz of spectrum in the 5.895-5.925 GHz band for the Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) service, and require the transition of the ITS radio service standard from Dedicated Short-Range Communications technology to Cellular Vehicle-to- Everything technology.
- Further Streamlining of Satellite Regulations – A Report and Order that would streamline its satellite licensing rules by creating an optional framework for authorizing space stations and blanket-licensed earth stations through a unified license.
- Facilitating Next Generation Fixed-Satellite Services in the 17 GHz Band – A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would propose to add a new allocation in the 17.3-17.8 GHz band for Fixed-Satellite Service space-to-Earth downlinks and to adopt associated technical rules.
- Revising Rules for Resolution of Program Carriage Complaints –A Report and Order that would modify the Commission’s rules governing the resolution of program carriage disputes between video programming vendors and multichannel video programming distributors.
FCC Releases Data on 2019 Broadband Deployment
The FCC released updated broadband deployment data, based on Form 477 filings. The FCC said that the data shows that the digital divide is closing. At the end of 2019, the number of Americans living in areas without access to terrestrial fixed broadband with speeds of at least 25/3 Mbps (the FCC’s benchmark for high-speed broadband) fell to 14.5 million, a 46% decrease from the end of 2016. Services at higher speeds saw even more significant deployment, with the number of Americans living in areas without broadband speeds of at least 250/25 Mbps falling by 77% since the end of 2016. During that three-year period, the number of rural Americans living in areas with 250/25 Mbps broadband service increased by 268%.
The fixed broadband data include revisions made by filers through October 8, 2020, while the mobile deployment data include revisions made by filers through May 28, 2020. Data users should expect future revisions to be captured in subsequent releases.
The updated broadband deployment data includes fixed terrestrial (including fixed wireless) and mobile broadband deployment at speeds ranging from 10/1 Mbps to 250/25 Mbps. Fixed broadband deployment data are available at https://www.fcc.gov/general/broadband-deployment-data-fcc-form-477 and can be viewed on the National Broadband Map at https://broadbandmap.fcc.gov. Mobile deployment data are available at https://www.fcc.gov/mobile-deployment-form-477-data.
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.