Today’s Regulatory Mix: Connect Maryland Broadband Program, New Mexico PRC to Resume IPCS Workshop
Connect Maryland Broadband Program
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced a $400 Million program to extend high-speed Internet throughout the state by 2025. In addition to the $300 million investment that was announced in March as part of a bipartisan budget agreement to allocate federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, an additional $100 million is being invested to close the digital divide. To ensure that funding is invested in local communities swiftly, a bipartisan Maryland Broadband Advisory Workgroup has been created. Further, to make broadband more affordable for low- and moderate-income households, the governor also announced the launch of a new Maryland Emergency Broadband Benefit Subsidy Program. To receive assistance, a household must already be approved for service under the Federal Emergency Broadband Benefit Program.
New Mexico PRC to Resume IPCS Workshop
The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) plans to resume workshops in Case No. 20-00170-UT regarding incarcerated persons calling services (IPCS) in light of actions taken by the FCC on this subject in WC Docket No. 12-375. On May 24, 2021, The FCC Issued its Third Report and Order, Order on Reconsideration, and Fifth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The FCC:
- lowered the interstate interim rate caps to new interim caps of $0.12 per minute for prisons and $0.14 per minute for jails with populations of 1,000 or more.
- reformed the current treatment of site commission payments, allowing an $0.02 additional allowance for negotiated site commission payments to prisons and jails.
- eliminated the separate interstate collect calling rate cap, lowering rates in all facilities.
- capped international calling rates.
- further reformed the ancillary service charge rules, including allowing transaction fees associated with single-call services or for third-party money transfer service fees to $6.95 per transaction on an interim basis.
- adopted a new mandatory data collection to gather data to set permanent rates.
- reaffirmed providers’ obligations regarding access for incarcerated people with disabilities.
- reaffirmed the FCC’s finding in the 2020 ICS Order that the jurisdictional nature of a telephone call for purposes of charging consumers depends on the physical location of the originating and terminating endpoints of the call.
- initiated a Fifth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that addresses 1) accommodations for incarcerated individuals with disabilities; 2) addresses Video Relay Service (VRS); 3) explores permanently capping provider and facility-related rate components; 4) revising ancillary service charges rules; 5) recurring mandatory data collection; 6) revisions to the Commission’s definition of “jail”, and 6) explores the competitive characteristics of the ICS bidding market.
The FCC is taking comments and reply comments from parties which are currently due September 27, and October 27, 2021, respectively. PRC staff proposes scheduling a workshop for Thursday, September 16 at 1:30 pm to discuss next steps, but invites alternative dates/times as well.
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related 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 an Inteserra Briefing.