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 Briefing.
The FCC announced the agenda for its December 17, 2015, Open Meeting, as follows:
- US Telecom Petition for Forbearance: The FCC will consider a Memorandum Opinion and Order addressing a petition from USTelecom that seeks forbearance from various categories of statutory and FCC requirements applicable to incumbent local exchange carriers.
- Rules For Digital Low Power Television and Television Translator Stations: The FCC will consider a Third Report and Order that extends the deadline for LPTV and TV Translator Stations to Transition to Digital and adopts measures to mitigate the impact of incentive auction displacement. The Fourth Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on channel sharing issues between certain stations.
- Licensing and Operating Rules for Space Stations and Earth Stations: The FCC will consider a Second Report and Order that streamlines, eliminates or updates numerous provisions of Part 25 of the FCC’s rules governing licensing and operation of space stations and earth stations for the provision of satellite communication services.
The FCC will also hear a presentation on the outcomes of the International Telecommunication Union’s World Radio Conference that took place in November 2015 and consider six media items as a consent agenda.
New FCC.GOV Website
The FCC officially launched the new FCC.gov website on December 10, 2015. A blog posting by the webmaster and FCC.GOV project manager describes some of the new features, which include: (1) A new a “toggle” capability that allows visitors to browse by “Category” or “Bureau and Office.” Extensive user research revealed visitors to FCC.gov prefer a clear separation of consumer content and practitioner content; the toggle navigation accommodates these differing preferences. (2) A new site search feature that brings together results from both FCC.gov and the Electronic Document Management System (EDOCS) “into a seamless search experience.” Users can search only within FCC.gov and EDOCS and there are an array of facets to help further refine search results. Work will continue in the weeks and months ahead to continue refining the relevancy of the search results. (3) The design of the site has been upgraded to a more modern look-and-feel that is “responsive to the device you are using.” Thus, the display will adjust depending on whether you are using a mobile device, tablet or computer. The site also utilizes brighter colors and more white space to direct eye focus and enhance the scan ability of webpages. The FCC is looking for feedback, especially with respect to any bugs, broken links, or missing content. Feedback should be provided to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAF Phase II Auction
In a blog posting, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly laid out the principles he believes should guide the formation of rules for the anticipated reverse auction to select recipients of Connect America Fund (CAF) money to provide broadband service in areas not selected by ILECs. (In a reverse auction, providers would bid down on how much CAF support they would receive to serve an area with broadband. The FCC has talked about making available $175 million per year (or $1.75 billion over 10 years) for the auction. ) He proposes the following fundamental principles:
- Maximize Coverage: Overall direction must be to serve as many unserved consumers as possible with service that meets specified baseline performance requirements.
- No Categories: Must start with a level playing field. Eliminate artificial categories or tiers , which could discount providers capable of providing the requisite service, and are based on unsupported assumptions.
- Open to All Technologies: Fiber should not be the default, nor should unlicensed, satellite or other qualified providers be sidelined. If satellite or unlicensed wireless offerings are able to do the job, they should not be arbitrarily excluded.
- Multi-round Auction: Establish a real auction – not sealed bids or subjective staff review. Multi-round structure enables competition, where it exists, to achieve greater cost-efficiencies. No Overbuilding: Funding should not flow to areas that already have broadband (i.e., 10/1 service for price cap areas).