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.
Government Accountability Office
In response to a Congressional request, the GAO issued a Report examining progress in addressing broadband adoption barriers. The report examines (1) benefits of home broadband adoption, (2) barriers to adoption and approaches to address them, and (3) the extent to which FCC and NTIA have assessed efforts and set goals to address barriers. GAO reviewed literature on benefits and barriers, documentation on the performance of efforts to address adoption barriers, and interviewed FCC and NTIA officials, 14 of the 42 Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP) grantees, and 21 public and private stakeholders selected based on GAO’s prior work and recommendations from other stakeholders.
The Report concludes that home broadband adoption can provide a number of social and economic benefits but that non-adoption rates remain higher among populations such as low-income households and older Americans. Affordability, lack of perceived relevance, and lack of computer skills are the principal barriers to broadband adoption identified by literature and stakeholders GAO interviewed. GAO identified three key approaches used to address adoption barriers: (1)Discounts on computer equipment and broadband subscriptions; (2) Outreach efforts to promote broadband availability and benefits; and (3) Training to help people develop skills in using computers and broadband.
The Report acknowledges that through the BTOP, Lifeline, and other initiatives, NTIA and FCC have worked to address barriers to broadband, but concludes that their current goals and the intended outcomes of their work are unclear. Specifically, “for both of these agencies, key planning documents released in 2015 that are to clearly communicate intended outcomes have dropped or revised goals included in prior years’ plans related to the agencies’ efforts to address broadband adoption. Consequently, it is unclear that the agencies have a clear strategy for sustaining their efforts to increase broadband adoption, and the ability to tell whether these efforts will be successful is limited.”
GAO recommended that: (1) NTIA include an outcome-based goal and measure for its broadband adoption work in its performance plan; and (2) the FCC revise its strategic plan to more clearly state if broadband adoption is a priority, and if so, what outcomes FCC intends to achieve.
The Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, June 11, at 10:00 a.m. in room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building. The hearing is entitled, “Oversight of FCC Field Offices.”
Members will review FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal to close 16 of 24 FCC field offices. The field offices, which were established to help guard against spectrum interference and ensure public safety, act as the FCC’s local agents in fulfilling its mission. Members have previously requested documents that were used to make this decision from the commission. See complete release here.
A new law in Maryland will deregulate IXCs effective 7/1/15. The law will also allow ILECs and CLECs to detariff services included in ILEC Baskets 4 (discretionary services) and 5 (competitive services) effective 9/1/15. The PSC was directed to determine which CLEC services are similar to ILEC Basket 4 and 5 services on or before 9/1/15. IXCs that provide institutional operator services are not deregulated. TMI Regulatory Bulletin Service subscribers see Bulletin dated 6/1/15.