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.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden have released the fifth in a series of white papers intended to facilitate a dialogue on modernizing the laws governing the communications and technology sectors – #CommActUpdate. This paper, focused on the Universal Service Fund; seeks comment on the structure and effectiveness of the fund, as currently designed, and questions whether the goals of the fund can be advanced more efficiently in other ways. ”As technologies have been improved and networks upgraded, we have a responsibility to review the program to find out if the fund is still serving its purpose and if there may be better ways to accomplish its goals” said Upton and Waldon. In addition to comments on universal service policy and the FCC’s role in its formulation and application, the committee encourages comment on any aspect of competition and updating the Communications Act. Comments are due by September 19, 2014.
The FCC issued a Forfeiture Order against T-Mobile and imposed a penalty of $819,000 for failing to provide the minimum number of hearing aid-compatible handset models required under FCC rules during calendar years 2009 and 2010. Those rules require carriers to offer a certain, specified number of handset models that are compatible with each of the two hearing aid modes (acoustic coupling and inductive coupling). The FCC concluded that T-Mobile willfully and repeatedly violated §§20.19(c)(2) and 20.19(d)(2) of the its rules. The FCC said that T-Mobile did not dispute this, but did request a reduction of the forfeiture amount. The FCC declined to do so.
The PUC issued the scoping memo in the rulemaking concerning Right-of-Way rules applicable to commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) carriers. The overall scope of the proceeding is to consider whether and how the rules adopted by the PUC (Decision 98-10-058) for nondiscriminatory access to public utility poles, ducts, and conduit located in rights-of-way should be amended to encompass CMRS carriers. The PUC said the scope of the proceeding includes the possible adoption of additional rules and standards to ensure that CMRS pole attachments are designed, constructed, and maintained to (1) protect the safety of workers and the public and (2) preserve the reliability of co-located utility facilities such as power lines and telephone lines.
In a Press Release issued on August 27, 2014, New York’s Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said: “I have directed the New York State Department of Public Service to investigate this outage as part of its review of Comcast’s proposed merger with Time Warner. The Department will also review whether the outage affected Time Warner’s provision of telephone service in any way. In addition, the Department will include its analysis of this event in its ongoing study of the telecom industry, which is exploring potential changes to the regulatory landscape pertaining to telephone, internet and cable.”