FCC 911 Fee Diversion Report/Comment Request
The Federal Communications Commission announced the publication of its tenth annual report to Congress on the collection and distribution of 911 fees by states. The report finds that in calendar year 2017, states and territories collected more than $2.9 billion in 911 fees. However, almost $285 million of that funding—approximately 9.7%—was diverted for uses other than 911. The FCC identified six states and one territory as diverting 911 fees for other uses last year: Montana, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The report also contains detailed state-by-state data on other aspects of 911 deployment in the United States, including the number and type of 911 calls, the number of 911 call centers and telecommunicators, investment in Next Generation 911, programs to support cybersecurity for 911 systems, and the extent of state-level oversight and auditing of the collection and use of 911 fees.
Separately, the FCC sought comment on the report, including: (1) the specific impact, if any, that fee diversion has had on the provision of 911 service in those states, including whether there have been any other instances of fee diversion by states or local jurisdictions not identified in the Report; (2) potential ways to dissuade states and other jurisdictions from
continuing or instituting 911 fee diversion; (3) the impact of the fact that many jurisdictions lack authority to audit service providers to verify that the collected fees accurately reflect the number of in-state subscribers served; and (4) whether the reported NG911 expenditures are representative of overall NG911 expenditures, indicative of a trend in expected future expenditures, and whether the identified expenditures are adequate for implementation of NG911 services and infrastructure nationwide. The FCC notes that eleven states, American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands reported not spending any money on NG911. Its seeks comment on the impact of this failure to prepare for impending communications-sector IP technology transition, including the impact on commercial providers and on consumers and communities. Comments are due January 18, 2019.
The Regulatory Mix Today: FCC 911 Fee Diversion Report/Comment Request, FCC Urban Rates Survey, IOWA Governor Releases Broadband Grant Information, NTIA National Spectrum Strategy
FCC Urban Rates Survey
The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) announced: (1) the 2019 reasonable comparability benchmarks for fixed voice and broadband services for eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) subject to broadband public interest obligations, including incumbent local exchange rate-of-return carriers, incumbent price-cap carriers receiving CAF Phase II support, Rural Broadband Experiment providers, and Connect America Fund Phase II Auction (Auction 903) winners; (2) the posting of the fixed voice and broadband services data collected in the most recent urban rate survey, and explanatory notes regarding the data, on the FCC’s website at http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/urban-rate-survey-data; and (3) the required minimum usage allowance for ETCs subject to public interest obligations for fixed broadband.
The reasonable comparability benchmark for voice services was set at $51.61. Each ETC, including competitive ETCs providing fixed voice services,4 must certify in the FCC Form 481 filed no later than July 1, 2019, that the pricing of its basic residential voice services is no more than $51.61. The minimum monthly usage allowance for 2019 was set at 215 GB.
Iowa Governor Releases Broadband Grant Information
Gov. Kim Reynolds (R.) announced that $1.3 million for broadband grants was now available through the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) "to improve broadband access for Iowans and eliminate underserved areas (targeted service areas) across the state."
Under the grant program, telecom companies and other services providers, as well as cities and towns, can apply for up to 15% of their broadband project costs in targeted service areas.
"This is another step we are taking to provide access to residents, not only to Internet connectivity, but also to opportunities in education, healthcare, employment, and business," Gov. Reynolds said. "I appreciate the efforts by OCIO to advocate for the grant funding and the legislature's significant budgetary boost to improving connectivity for Iowa residents and businesses."
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.