Today's Regulatory Mix: FCC Confirms That Community Use of E-Rate-Support Wi-Fi Networks is Permitted, FCC's Carr Praises Internet Providers' New Plans for Low-Income and Student Access, US Congress Secure 5G and Beyond and Broadband DATA Act
FCC Confirms That Community Use Of E-Rate-Supported Wi-Fi Networks Is Permitted
The FCC confirmed that schools and libraries that are closed due to the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak that they are permitted to allow the general public to use E-Rate-supported Wi-Fi networks while on the school’s campus or library property. Specifically, libraries may offer access to E-Rate funded services on their premises as well as services that are “integral, immediate and proximate to the provision of library services to library patrons,” and, because the mission to serve the public is ongoing, libraries are permitted to allow the public to access E-Rate funded services even when they are closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic. Similarly, closed schools may allow access to E-Rate funded services “to community members who access the Internet while on a school’s campus” so long as they do not charge for the use of the service.
The FCC said it would leave it to individual schools and libraries to establish their own policies regarding use of their Wi-Fi networks during closures, including hours of use, subject to any applicable health and safety guidelines, including those on social distancing, as may be set out by relevant federal, state, local, and Tribal authorities.
FCC’s Carr Praises Internet Providers’ New Plans for Low-Income, Student Access
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr issued a statement praising America’s Internet service providers for creating or expanding over the last week access plans tailored to keeping students and others in low-income households online and connected. He “This is the private sector stepping up and extending the reach of the FCC’s own low-income initiatives. Over the past week, we have been in close communication with America’s Internet providers because we are all in this together. I want to commend them for how quickly they have moved to ensure that Americans—and low-income consumers in particular—stay connected. Internet providers understand that low-income households now more than ever need access to fast Internet to keep working and learning. Creating and enhancing plans for those most in need is caring for our communities and deserves our praise. I’m grateful to our partners in the private sector who have worked with us on so many of these plans. Their leadership and continued quality service will keep kids connected and help all of us beat this virus.”
US Congress Secure 5G and Beyond Act and Broadband DATA Act
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR), Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Latta (R-OH) released the following statement today after President Trump signed the Secure 5G and Beyond Act of 2020 (S. 893) and the Broadband DATA Act (S. 1822) into law:
“The bills signed into law today by the President are critical to ensuring that all Americans can access broadband and that our networks are secure and trusted. The need for connectivity is even more critical now that millions of Americans are teleworking and learning from home in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We must prepare our networks for the 5G future and ensure federal agencies work together on a comprehensive plan to identify and address security risks in 5G and future wireless technologies — the Secure 5G and Beyond Act requires exactly that. We commend Representatives Spanberger, Stefanik, Slotkin, Rooney, O’Halleran and Brooks for their great, bipartisan work on this bill.
“It’s also long past time to fix our nation’s faulty broadband maps. Accurately mapping unserved and underserved communities is essential to promoting the deployment of high-speed service to all Americans and ensuring our investments have maximum impact. The Broadband DATA Act will help tremendously with those efforts, and we thank Representatives Loebsack, McEachin and Long for their leadership on this bill.
“We look forward to continuing to work together to ensure our nation’s telecommunications networks are safe and secure, and that Americans across the country can access the internet.”
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.