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.
At its meeting last week (See the Regulatory Mix dated 10/23/15) the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), reviewed six bipartisan proposals aimed at improving broadband deployment for consumers across the country; (1) H.R. 3805, the Broadband Conduit Deployment Act of 2015; (2) a discussion draft that would require federal agencies to use the common forms, contracts, and fee schedules developed for the location of wireless facilities on Federal property; (3) a discussion draft that would expand access to pole attachments for broadband deployment; (4) a discussion draft that would create an inventory of Federal assets to provide information to entities that construct or operate broadband facilities or provide broadband service and to provide for the tracking of applications to locate or modify broadband facilities on Federal real property; (5) a discussion draft that would require agencies to streamline their permitting processes for locating broadband facilities; and (6) a discussion draft that would streamline and accelerate the federal requirements for historical review of broadband facilities and the preparation of environmental impact statements regarding such facilities.
The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) announced it will be soon be initiating the urban rate survey for 2016. The information collected through the survey will be used, among other things, to develop voice and broadband reasonable comparability benchmarks that will be in place in 2016. To obtain statistically valid samples, the WCB will be collecting the rates offered by providers of fixed services identified using FCC Form 477 data (as of December 31, 2014). There will be separate samples for fixed voice and fixed broadband services with up to 500 urban Census tracts in each. Since some providers serve many urban Census tracts, they may receive surveys for multiple Census tracts. Notifications that a provider is required to complete a survey will be sent via email to each selected provider’s FCC Form 477 contact person and certifying official on or around November 3, 2015. The survey consists of an online reporting form which will be accessible only to the selected providers. The email notification will provide detailed information on how to access and complete the survey online report form and how to obtain technical assistance. Completed surveys will be due on December 8, 2015.
On 10/26/15, Charter Advanced Services filed a court appeal of the Minnesota PUC’s order finding that the fixed interconnected VoIP service it provides is a telecommunications service under state law and is subject to traditional telephone regulation. TMI Briefing Service subscribers see Briefing dated 8/4/15 and 9/28/15. Charter alleges that state regulation of its VoIP service is preempted by federal law because it is an information service. It asks the court to: (1) declare that application of Minnesota state public utilities and common carrier requirements to its interconnected VoIP service is preempted by the Federal Communications Act; and (2) enjoin the PUC from seeking to enforce Minnesota state public utilities and common carrier requirement against Charter’s VoIP service.