Today: US Senate Legislation to Expand Rural Broadband, California Passes Local Agency Broadband Services Bill; Establishes Net Neutrality Rules for Local Agencies, California Prepaid Collection Act Deemed Unconstitutional
The Regulatory Mix will be on hiatus in observance of Thanksgiving from Wednesday, November 21st through Friday, November 23rd. We will be back on Monday, November 26th!
US Senate Legislation to Expand Rural Broadband
U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced bipartisan legislation to encourage investment in high-speed internet and protect and expand access to broadband in our rural communities. The Access to Capital Creates Economic Strength and Supports (ACCESS) Rural America Act would provide regulatory relief to rural telecommunications service providers by allowing them to submit streamlined financial reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Specifically, the legislation would increase the number of investors that triggers SEC public reporting requirements for rural telecommunications companies. This will save these small companies from costly SEC reporting requirements that were never intended for them.
“To compete in today’s economy, small businesses and rural communities in Iowa need access to quality broadband. Currently, rural telecom providers throughout Iowa face the threat of costly SEC reporting requirements, making it more difficult to invest in broadband throughout Iowa, and across the country. The bipartisan ACCESS Rural America Act allows these businesses to focus on expanding access to broadband instead of complying with red tape,” said Senator Ernst.
“Reliable high-speed broadband is critical to strengthening small businesses and neighborhoods throughout Wisconsin’s rural communities. Unfortunately, rural telecom companies are getting hit with disclosure costs that were never intended for them, creating new challenges to delivering broadband access throughout Wisconsin,” said Senator Baldwin. “Our bipartisan legislation provides the regulatory relief that rural service providers need to build-out high-speed broadband in small communities and continue our efforts to bring broadband access for all – no matter where you live in Wisconsin.”
The full legislation is available here
California Passes Local Agency Broadband Services Bill; Establishes Net Neutrality Rules for Local Agencies
California recently passed legislation that establishes net neutrality rules for local agencies that provide broadband services and expands the types of local agencies that may provide broadband infrastructure, services, or both. This bill expressly authorizes a county service area to acquire, construct, improve, maintain, and operate broadband Internet access services, and would require a county service area that does so to take certain actions regarding the accessing of content on the Internet by end users of that service, as described in the bill. This bill would, except as provided, prohibit a local agency that is authorized to engage in the provision of broadband Internet access service, as defined, in the state from taking certain actions regarding the accessing of content on the Internet by end users.
The bill becomes effective January 1, 2019.
California Prepaid Collection Act Deemed Unconstitutional
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has ruled that the California Prepaid Mobile Telephony Services Surcharge Collection Act (Act) is unconstitutional. As a result, it enjoined the California PUC and any other state agency/authority or local jurisdiction in California from enforcing the Act. The law required prepaid mobile providers to collect a fee that recovered the assessments associated with various CA PUC end user surcharges, the state 911 fee, and various local charges. The PUC is scheduled to consider an emergency resolution, in response to the court order, at its November 29, 2018 meeting. It is not clear at this point what specific action will be taken with respect to the collection of the 911 and local fees recovered through the surcharge.
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.