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 Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee announced it will hold a full committee hearing entitled “Wireless Broadband and the Future of Spectrum Policy” on Wednesday, July 29, 2015, at 10:30 a.m. The hearing will explore U.S. spectrum policy and how it should be improved to accommodate consumers’ growing demands for wireless broadband. Witnesses have been asked to address how federal spectrum policy may need to change to meet national challenges and what role Congress should play in establishing a successful spectrum strategy over the next few decades.
The FCC has started the Paperwork Reduction Act review process for its Order allowing interconnected VoIP providers to apply for a blanket authorization from the FCC that will enable them to request numbers directly from the Numbering Administrators. See our 6/19/15 Blog “FCC Says VoIP Providers Can Get Numbers Directly.” Comments are due by September 21, 2015. Comments are requested concerning: Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the FCC, including whether the information will have practical utility; the accuracy of the FCC’s burden estimate; ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology; and ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees. The FCC estimates that: the Number of Respondents and Responses will be 13 respondents/13 responses; the Estimated Time per Response will be 120 hours; with a total annual burden (one-time application, on-going and bi-annual reporting requirements) of 1,560 hours.
AT&T – DirectTV Transaction
As expected, the FCC approved, with conditions, the transfer of control of licenses and authorizations from DIRECTV to AT&T Inc. (AT&T). See the Regulatory Mix dated 7/23/15. The approval will allow AT&T to acquire DIRECTV and merge the two companies into one combined entity. The conditions, which generally will remain in effect for four years after the merger closes, include:
- Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) Deployment. Since the merger reduces AT&T-DIRECTV’s incentive to deploy FTTP service, AT&T will be required to expand FTTP service to 12.5 million customer locations.
- Gigabit Service to E-rate Eligible Schools and Libraries. To ensure that schools and libraries also benefit from expanded fiber deployment to consumers and institutions, AT&T-DIRECTV will be required to offer gigabit service to any E-rate eligible school or library where AT&T-DIRECTV deploys FTTP service.
- Non-Discriminatory Usage-Based Practices. Recognizing that AT&T is the only major ISP that applies “data caps” across the board to all of its fixed broadband customers and that this merger increases the incentive of AT&T-DIRECTV to use strategies that limit consumers’ access to online video distribution services in order to favor its own video services, AT&T-DIRECTV is required to refrain from imposing discriminatory usage-based allowances or other discriminatory retail terms and conditions on its broadband Internet service.
- Internet Interconnection Disclosure Requirements. Recognizing the importance of interconnection to the operation of online video services, AT&T-DIRECTV is also required to submit its Internet interconnection agreements so that the FCC can monitor the terms of such agreements to determine whether AT&T-DIRECTV is denying or impeding access to its networks in anticompetitive ways through the terms of these agreements.
- Discounted Broadband Services for Low-Income Subscribers. AT&T-DIRECTV will be required to make available an affordable, low-price, standalone broadband service to low-income consumers in its broadband service area.
- Compliance Program and Reporting. AT&T-DIRECTV must retain both an internal company compliance officer and an independent, external compliance officer that will report and monitor, respectively, the combined entity’s compliance with all conditions of the merger.