Today's Regulatory Mix: FCC to Vote on Designating 988 for National Suicide Prevention Hotline, US Congress RDOF Funding
FCC to Vote on Designating 988 for National Suicide Prevention Hotline
The FCC announced it will vote, at its July 16 Open Meeting, on final rules designating 988 as the new, nationwide, phone number for Americans in crisis to connect with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors. The rules, if adopted by the Commission at its July 16 Open Meeting, would require all phone service providers to begin directing all 988 calls to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022. While this transition takes place, Americans who need help should continue to contact the Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK) and through online chats.
“988 will save lives. Helping Americans in crisis connect to counselors trained in suicide prevention is one of the most important things we can do at the FCC,” said Chairman Pai. “We believe that 988—which has an echo of the 911 number we all know as an emergency number—will help people access mental health services. Establishing this special purpose number will also highlight the urgency of addressing rising suicide rates in America and reduce the stigma too often associated with seeking assistance from suicide prevention and mental health services. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting these final rules. By doing so,
we would send a message to every American: You are not alone.”
If adopted, these rules would apply to all telecommunications carriers as well as all interconnected and one-way VoIP service providers. They would be required to complete this transition by July 16, 2022. The draft final rules reject a request from phone service providers for a longer transition period. But they also reflect the real challenges of such a nationwide effort including the need for widespread network changes and providing time for Congress, other federal agencies, and local call centers to prepare for the expected increase in the volume of calls. Under the proposed rules, calls to 988 would be directed to 1-800-273-TALK, which will remain operational before and after the 988 transition is completed.
US Congress RDOF Funding
U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), introduced the Accelerating Broadband Connectivity (ABC) Act of 2020. This legislation would expedite the deployment of broadband service by creating a fund to be used by the FCC to incentivize winning bidders of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction to complete their buildout obligations on a shorter timeline. The Act would:
- Create a fund to be used by the FCC following the RDOF Phase I auction to incentivize winning bidders to complete their buildout obligations on an accelerated timeline.
- Build upon the existing RDOF process to get high-speed broadband service to rural consumers much faster than the current timetable for deployment using RDOF dollars.
- Require service providers who receive funds from the Accelerating Broadband Connectivity (ABC) Fund to meet a series of accelerated milestones for their RDOF deployments.
- Allow the FCC to conduct the auction in a way that maximizes value to American taxpayers while connecting consumers more quickly.
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.