Today: FCC Shutdown Plans, Maine Adopts Rule to Assist PSAP Consolidation, FCC Extends Separation Freeze, U.S. Senate Passes READI Act
The Regulatory Mix will be on hiatus for the Holidays beginning Thursday, December 20, 2018. We will be back on Wednesday, January 2, 2019. Happy Holidays to you and yours. See you in the New Year!
FCC Shutdown Plans
The FCC released a plan for an orderly shutdown due to a lapse of Congressional appropriations. The FCC said that If a potential lapse in appropriations is imminent, it will determine whether and for how long prior year funds are available to continue agency operations during a lapse. If prior year funds are available, employees will be notified that the FCC will remain open beyond a lapse and directed to report to work as usual until further notice. If the prior year funds are unavailable or are exhausted during the lapse in appropriations, the FCC will furlough employees and take other actions in accordance with its plan. Generally, during all FCC activities other than those immediately necessary for the protection of life or property, performing other excepted activities or funded through a source other than lapsed appropriations will cease. Suspended activities include, among many others: Consumer complaint and inquiry phone lines cannot be answered; consumer protection and local competition enforcement must cease; and licensing services, including broadcast, wireless, and wireline, must cease. If there is a shutdown, FCC employees will report to work the first business day following the lapse in appropriations to shutdown their work in an orderly fashion. Only 17% of the work force will be retained during the shutdown, the vast majority of which are engaged in spectrum auction-related activities that are not funded through annual appropriations.
Maine Adopts Rule to Assist PSAP Consolidation
The Maine PUC adopted a new rule to implement recently enacted legislation that authorizes a grant program to assist dispatch centers consolidating into Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). The purpose of this rule is to establish the requirements for the dispatch center consolidation grant program. Also, the rule establishes the application process for the distribution of grants for nonrecurring costs incurred by dispatch centers for consolidation into PSAPs and allowable uses of grant funds.
FCC Extends Separation Freeze
The FCC has extended the current separation freeze for rate-of-return carriers for up to six years the freeze on Part 36 category relationships and jurisdictional cost allocation factors that the FCC adopted in the 2001 Separations Freeze Order. This extension will begin on January 1, 2019, and will continue until the earlier of December 31, 2024, or the completion of comprehensive reform of the FCC’s Part 36 jurisdictional separations rules. The FCC provided provide carriers that opted to freeze their separations category relationships in 2001 a one-time opportunity to unfreeze and update those relationships so that they can categorize their costs based on current circumstances. Carriers currently in the NECA traffic-sensitive pool must notify NECA by March 1, 2019, of their decision to opt out of the category relationships freeze. The FCC declined to alter the scope of the referral to the Joint Board, and instead asked the Joint Board to adopt an incremental approach to separations reform by focusing first on cleaning up the existing separations rules and then on long-term steps toward comprehensive reform of the remaining rules.
U.S. Senate Passes READI Act
The U.S. Senate passed the READI Act sending it to the U.S. House for review. The READI Act provides for oversight by the FCC of wireless and broadcast emergency alert systems. The READI Act would require FEMA to create best practices for state, tribal, and local governments to use for issuing emergency alerts, avoiding false alerts, and retracting false alerts if they occur. The READI Act would also require the FCC to adopt rules relating to the establishment and activities of state emergency communications committees, reporting false alerts, repeating certain Emergency Alert System (EAS) messages while an alert remains pending, and expanding EAS to 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.