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.
FCC Consolidated Reporting Act
The House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology announced that it has scheduled a markup on February 4, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. to consider a discussion draft of the FCC’s Consolidated Reporting Act of 2015. The Act aims to reduce the reporting workload and increase efficiency at the FCC, and it would consolidate a number of existing reports required by law into a single, comprehensive report on the state of the communications marketplace. The draft is very similar to the bill of the same name that was passed in 2013. See the Regulatory Mix dated 8/2/13. The legislation would combine eight annual reports (including the Section 706 annual report on broadband deployment) into a single biennial Communications Marketplace Report. The new report would be published every two years and would have to assess:
- the state of competition in the communications marketplace, including competition to deliver voice, video, audio, and data services among providers of wireline, wireless, cable, broadcast, satellite, Internet, and other communications services;
- the state of deployment of advanced communications capabilities, regardless of the technology used, including whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion; and
- whether laws, regulations, or regulatory practices of federal and state agencies, Indian tribes or tribal organizations, or foreign governments pose a barrier to competitive entry into the communications marketplace or to the competitive expansion of existing providers of communications services.
In assessing competition, the FCC would have to consider intermodal, facilities-based, and Internet-based competition and consider market entry barriers for entrepreneurs and other small businesses. In assessing deployment, the FCC would have to compile a list of geographic areas that are not served by any provider of advanced telecommunications capability. The FCC would be allowed to consider international and demographic data in making its assessments.
The report would also have to describe:
- The FCC’s agenda for the next two-year period for addressing the challenges and opportunities in the communications marketplace that were identified through the required assessments; and
- The actions the FCC has taken in pursuit of the agenda described in its previous report.
The bill would also eliminate outdated or already repealed reports.
Open Internet/Net Neutrality
House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chairman John Thune (R-SD) sent a letter to President Barack Obama seeking his partnership to establish permanent protections for an open Internet and avoid protracted litigation. These are goals they believe can only be achieved through legislation. They noted that the House and Senate recently began to draft bipartisan legislation to protect Internet users, promote innovation, and encourage broadband investment and that this legislation seeks to codify the principles the President highlighted previously, including prohibiting blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. See TMI’s previous blog postings: “Draft of House Net Neutrality Legislation Revealed,” dated 1/20/15 and “FCC Moves Forward With Proposal For Net Neutrality Rules,“ dated 5/15/14. The Chairmen, noting the President’s State of the Union address, said that they “accept your invitation to work together to achieve positive and enduring results for all Americans who rely on the Internet in our increasingly digital economy.”