The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of 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 a TMI Regulatory Bulletin.
The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology hearing scheduled for February 11, 2014, entitled “Lessons Learned from the Broadband Stimulus,” has been postponed.
The Director of National Intelligence announced that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court agreed to make changes to the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of telephony metadata. Specifically, the Court endorsed the two changes announced by President Obama that would: (1) require a judicial finding that there is a reasonable, articulable suspicion that the selection term is associated with an approved international terrorist organization before metadata can be queried (absent a true emergency); and (2) limit query results to metadata within two hops of the selection term instead of three.
In addition, the Court ordered the government to do a classification review by February 17, 2014, of the January 3, 2014, Primary Order, the government’s motion to amend that order, and the order granting the motion. Following completion of the review, the motion and two orders will be published as appropriate on the Court’s website, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will post them to its website and icontherecord.
The FCC has extended the pilot program for the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) for an additional year, until June 30, 2015. The NDBEDP was established by the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). The program is authorized to spend up to $10 million annually for the distribution of accessible communications equipment to low-income individuals who are deaf-blind.
In the first year of the program, reimbursement claims were made for approximately 70% of the $10 million available to support the NDBEDP. Reimbursement requests indicate that 100% of the $10 million annual allocation will be used in the program’s second year, suggesting that more equipment is being distributed to a larger number of participants. Given the significant growth in the second year, the FCC decided it should have data from a fully operational second year when it conducts a rulemaking proceeding to develop a permanent NDBEDP. That proceeding will be conducted during the third year of the NDBEDP.
Rural Call Completion
The FCC has granted Vonage Holding Corp. an additional month, until March 3, 2014, to comply with the ring signaling rule that the FCC adopted in the Rural Call Completion Order. (The ring signaling rule prohibits all originating and intermediate providers from causing audible ringing to be sent to the caller before the called party’s service provider has signaled that the called party is being alerted. Originating and intermediate providers must also convey audio tones and announcements sent by the called party’s service provider to the calling party.) Vonage told the FCC it could not modify its existing system to comply with the ring signaling rule across its entire customer base and had to install a new media delivery system. However it could not fully validate and test the new system by the original January 31, 2014, deadline.
The FCC found Vonage had shown good cause the “modest extension of time” to comply with the ring signaling rule. It directed Vonage to notify it no later than March 4, 2014, that it has come into compliance with the rule.
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will hold a hearing entitled “Department of Energy Oversight: Status of Clean Coal Programs” on February 11, 2014. The hearing will examine the status of the Department of Energy’s clean coal programs, with a focus on the research, development, demonstrations, and timeframes to support the advancement of carbon capture and sequestration technologies for potential future commercial deployment at coal-fired power plants. The Majority Memorandum and witness list is available here. Witness testimony will be available at the same link as it is posted.