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 House Energy and Commerce Committee today approved H.R. 4596, the Small Business Broadband Deployment Act. The bipartisan legislation, authored by Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR), seeks to protect small businesses from enhanced transparency requirements included in the Federal Communications Commission’s Open Internet Order. During today’s proceedings, a bipartisan amendment offered by Walden and Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA), was adopted. Both the amendment and H.R. 4596 were approved by voice vote.
The bipartisan amendment to H.R. 4596 extends the small business exemption for five years, defines small businesses as internet service providers with 250,000 subscribers or less, and requires an FCC report about the definition of small businesses and the future of this exemption.
A coalition of 911 public safety and industry leaders, in cooperation with the National 911 Program and the Next Generation 911 Institute announced the formation of the NG911 NOW Coalition. Its goal is that “by the end of the year 2020, all 911 systems and call centers in all 56 states and territories will have sufficiently funded, standards-based, end-to-end IP-based 911 capabilities, and have retired legacy 911 systems, without any degradation in service.” The mission of the Coalition is to create increased attention to NG911 issues and promote actions that will accelerate implementation of NG911 systems and services throughout the nation. The Coalition will be seeking the assistance of other government and public safety organizations, as well as industry partners as it works to implement an action plan to secure the funding, governance, best practices, and policies that will make this vision a reality.
In response to the announcement, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said “Over the past year, I have been very vocal about the fact that the transition to Next Generation 911 is stalled and we need an all-out effort to accelerate it. Today’s announcement of a new coalition to hasten the NG911 transition is welcome news. Modernizing the nation’s 911 system will take work from many stakeholders – including the FCC, state and local 911 authorities and legislatures, industry, and Congress – but together we can save lives.”
Charter Communications Time Warner Cable Merger
The Board of Public Utilities approved a merger between Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable Inc. Conditions of the approved merger include:
- Charter to offer a Low-Income Broadband Program within 15 months that provides service at $14.99 a month, including a modem, at speeds of 30 Mps download/4 Mbps upload for households with children eligible for the National School Lunch Program or Seniors 65 or older eligible for Supplemental Security Income.
- The continuation of Time Warner Cable’s Everyday Low Price $14.99 Broadband Service to existing customers for 3 years and new Charter customers for a period 2 years;
- Charter is to invest a minimum of $750,000 in customer service improvements for the benefit of New Jersey operations;
- Charter is to continue to offer Time Warner Cable’s Maxx Broadband offering with speeds up to 300 Mbps for 3 years;
- Charter will continue its practice of no data caps and providing Open Internet Protection per FCC requirements for 3 years;
- Charter to take on the liability of Time Warner Cable for pending 2003 rate appeals pending before the Federal Communications Commission;
- Charter to notify and provide an explanation to the Board if the company experiences employee loss of greater than 15% in New Jersey;
Charter said it has now secured the necessary regulatory approval from all but two of the states it will serve as New Charter; California and Hawaii.