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 FCC released a Public Notice providing guidance on several aspects of the upcoming Connect America Phase II challenge process. This process allows interested parties to challenge the determination of whether or not areas are served by an unsubsidized competitor. The guidance includes how the FCC will: (1) interpret the term “served; ” (2) evaluate factual statements as evidence; and (3) treat confidential filings. The FCC reminds carriers that any evidence they want the FCC to consider must be included in their filings. The FCC said it would issue another Public Notice announcing the start of the challenge process.
July 11, Open Meeting
The FCC announced the tentative agenda for its July 11, 2014 Open Meeting. It includes the following items:
(1) a Report and Order to modernize the E-Rate program by focusing support for WiFi connectivity for schools and libraries. The R&O seeks to close the WiFi gap, make E-Rate dollars go farther and deliver faster, simpler and more efficient applications and other processes. (See E-Rate, below)
(2) a Report and Order establishing a budget and a methodology for selecting winning applications for the Connect America rural broadband experiments adopted by the FCC in January 2014
(3) a Second Order on Reconsideration and a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that revisits the FCC’s determinations regarding the captioning of video clips when delivered using Internet protocol, ensuring that individuals with hearing disabilities are able to enjoy the full benefits of broadband technology
The FCC announced that Chairman Wheeler circulated an E-Rate Modernization proposal to his fellow Commissioners to revitalize the E-Rate program for the world of personalized learning. The FCC said the draft Order is focused closing the Wi-Fi gap, which the FCC said is the largest and most urgent need. Among other things, the draft proposal will: (1) Commit at least $1 billion in support to Wi-Fi next year to connect over 10 million students across the country in 2015, followed by another $1 billion in 2016 with predictable support continuing in future years; (2) Begin a multi-year transition of all program funding to broadband, by gradually phasing down support for non-broadband services; (3) Make E-Rate dollars go farther by setting the maximum program match for Wi-Fi services at 4 to 1 (which means for every dollar the poorest schools spend, the program will spend four); (4) speeding consortium applications to drive down prices; and (5) delivering faster, simpler, more efficient applications by: adopting a fast, simple process for multi-year applications and an expedited process for small dollar, cost-effective applications; speeding review of all applications; moving to electronic filing of all documents; and simplifying discount calculations.
Separately, FCC Commissioner Pai has also offered his own proposals for E-rate reform.