Posted by on May 26, 2021 03:39 PM

The Regulatory Mix – Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Today’s Regulatory Mix: FCC Demands Two More Companies Halt Illegal Robocall Campaigns, NTIA Announces $288 Million in Funding Available to States to Build Broadband Infrastructure, Pennsylvania Governor Announces $5 Million Available to Expand Broadband, WISPA Questions Wisdom of the Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds 

FCC Demands Two More Companies Halt Illegal Robocall Campaigns

The FCC announced that the Enforcement Bureau sent two more cease and desist letters in the ongoing fight against illegal robocalls. VaultTel Solutions and Prestige DR VoIP received demands to immediately cease carrying illegal robocall campaigns on their networks and report to the Commission steps implemented to prevent these operations from recurring.

Failing this, other network operators will be authorized to block traffic from these companies.  According to FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, “We need to use every tool we have to get these junk calls off of our networks. From these new cease-and-desist letters to STIR/SHAKEN implementation to large fines and our robocall mitigation database, we are going to do everything we can to protect consumers from these nuisance calls. We’re not going to stop until we get robocallers, spoofers, and scammers off the line.”

NTIA Announces $288 Million in Funding Available to States to Build Broadband Infrastructure 

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced the availability of $288 million in grant funding for the further deployment of broadband infrastructure. NTIA’s Broadband Infrastructure Program was established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.  Grants will be awarded to partnerships between a state, or political subdivisions of a state, and providers of fixed broadband service. 

In the priority order defined by the Act, NTIA will accept applications for projects that are designed to: 

  • Provide broadband service to the greatest number of households in an eligible service area; 
  • Provide broadband service to rural areas; 
  • Be most cost-effective in providing broadband service; or 
  • Provide broadband service with a download speed of at least 100 Mbps and an upload speed of at least 20 Mbps. 

Pennsylvania Governor Announces $5 Million Available to Expand Broadband 

Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Wolf, has announced that $5 million is available for projects that expand high-speed broadband service infrastructure in underserve and underserved areas through the Unserved High-Speed Broadband Funding Program (UHSB). The UHSB authorizes the Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFS) to award grants to nongovernmental entities that can offer access to high-speed broadband services. Applications will be accepted from June 1 through September 24, 2021. 

Final WISPA logo    WISPA Questions Wisdom of the Coronavirus Fiscal Recovery Funds 

The Department of Treasury recently published interim final rules implementing the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. The Fiscal Recovery Funds is a $350 billion emergency fund intended to support State, local, and Tribal governments combat and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.  A blog posted by Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) Chairman and Amplex Internet President Mark Radabaugh took issue with some of the points raised in the interim final rules. The final interim rules specifically encourage prioritizing support for networks owned, operated, or affiliated with local governments, non-profits, and co-operatives.  According to Radabaugh, it appears that “’no for-profit companies need apply,’ knocking small innovators like mine off the road. In doing so, it promotes what could only be considered a government-subsidized monopoly, killing off private enterprise.  Not only is this inherently anti-small business, the proposal’s bias for government-sponsored entities will result in less competition, innovation and broadband deployment…” 

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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.

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