Today's Regulatory Mix: The FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for the September Open Meeting, Indiana Authorizes $51 Million In Broadband Funding, US House Committee Passes Telecom Legislation
FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for September Open Meeting
The FCC has announced the tentative agenda for its next Open Meeting scheduled for September 30, 2020. It includes the following items:
- Improving Transparency and Timeliness of Foreign Ownership Review Process – The FCC will consider a Report and Order that would improve the timeliness and transparency of the process by which it seeks the views of Executive Branch agencies on any national security, law enforcement, foreign policy, and trade policy concerns related to certain applications filed with the Commission.
- Promoting Caller ID Authentication to Combat Spoofed Robocalls – The FCC will consider a Report and Order that would continue its work to implement the TRACED Act and promote the deployment of caller ID authentication technology to combat spoofed robocalls.
- Combating 911 Fee Diversion – The FCC will consider a Notice of Inquiry that would seek comment on ways to dissuade states and territories from diverting fees collected for 911 to other purposes.
- Modernizing Cable Service Change Notifications – The FCC will consider a Report and Order that would modernize requirements for notices cable operators must provide subscribers and local franchising authorities.
- Eliminating Records Requirements for Cable Operator Interests in Video Programming – The FCC will consider a Report and Order that would eliminate the requirement that cable operators maintain records in their online public inspection files regarding the nature and extent of their attributable interests in video programming services.
- Reforming IP Captioned Telephone Service Rates and Service Standards – The FCC will consider a Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would set compensation rates for Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service (IP CTS), deny reconsideration of previously set IP CTS compensation rates, and propose service quality and performance measurement standards for captioned telephone services.
Indiana Authorizes $51 Million In Broadband Funding
The Governor of Indiana announced the grant of $51 million for 50 broadband infrastructure expansion projects across the state as a part of the second round of the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program. This second round of funding will provide broadband infrastructure to more than 10,590 homes and commercial locations across 32 counties. In addition to the $51 million awarded by the state, the 16 telecommunications providers and utility cooperatives contributed more than $53 million in matching funds, resulting in more than $104 million total investment for broadband.
The program allows broadband service providers and utility cooperatives to apply for up to $5 million to expand service to unserved areas if they provide at least a 20 percent match. Unserved areas are those without at least one telecommunication provider offering at least 10 mbps download and 1 mbps upload. Proposed projects must provide a minimum level of service at actual speeds of 25 mbps download and 3 mbps upload.
The $100 million Next Level Broadband Grant Program is the largest single state investment in broadband. In total, rounds one and two of the program have awarded more than $79 million for broadband infrastructure for more than 21,900 homes and commercial locations in 41 counties.
US House Committee Passes Telecom Legislation
The House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced three communications and technology bills to the full House of Representatives:
H.R. 1289, the “Preserving Home and Office Numbers in Emergencies Act of 2019,” would prohibit providers from reassigning phone numbers of subscribers in areas covered by a major disaster declaration, in a designated area, for the duration of the declaration. The bill also prohibits providers of voice service from assessing early termination fees to cancel service, or connection fees to re-subscribe at a new address, for subscribers whose residence is rendered inaccessible or uninhabitable due to a major disaster.
H.R. 3957, the “Expanding Broadcast Ownership Opportunities Act of 2019,” would reinstate the tax certificate program at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The program incentivizes broadcast station sales to, and encourages capital investment in, stations owned and controlled by socially disadvantaged individuals. The bill also requires the FCC to make recommendations to Congress for increasing the number of stations owned by women and members of minority groups and to submit a report every two years stating the total number of women- and minority-owned stations.
H.R. 5564, the “Enhancing Broadcaster Diversity and Inclusion by Verifying and Ensuring the Reporting required by Statute Is Transpiring and Yielding Data Act” or the “Enhancing Broadcaster DIVERSITY Data Act,” which was introduced by Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), would require the FCC to complete its rulemaking reviewing the FCC’s broadcast and cable equal employment opportunity rules and to begin EEO data collection. The bill also requires the FCC to create a public, searchable database of broadcast ownership data collected by the FCC.
Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) released the following statement after the Committee’s action: “The three communications bills passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee today will enhance diversity within the broadcast industry and improve telecommunications stability for those affected by natural disasters. These are important, timely pieces of legislation that will go a long way toward improving diversity, safety and predictability within one of our most critical industries. I thank all the sponsors of these bills and hope to see them move to the House floor soon.”
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.