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.
U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D) has introduced the FCC Reauthorization Act of 2016, the first reauthorization of the FCC since 1990. The bill authorizes the FCC for FY 2017 and 2018 in the amounts of $361,116,000 for fiscal year 2017 and $348,711,000 for fiscal year 2018, “together with such sums as may be necessary for increases resulting from adjustments in salary, pay, retirement, other employee benefits required by law, and other nondiscretionary costs, for each such fiscal year.” The bill also:
- provides clarity for Commissioners’ terms of offices for vacancies by clarifying that all commissioners, whether appointed to a full five-year term or to fill a vacancy that occurs during a term, may remain at the FCC beyond a term’s expiration;
- requires the FCC to provide Congress with the same key documents that other independent agencies are required to provide (e.g., budget submissions, legislative recommendations, testimony, and comments on legislation);
- requires the Government Accountability Office to examine and provide recommendations regarding the FCC’s current regulatory fee structure to determine if it correlates to the actual workload of the FCC and if the fee structure has a “disparate impact” on certain companies/technologies;
- prevents Universal Service Fund (USF) funding commitments from being suspended due to the Antideficiency Act (ADA), ensuring that broadband services (E-rate in particular) across the nation will continue unimpeded. An ADA exemption has been temporarily extended on appropriations measures for a decade. The bill extends the exemption through FY2018, ensuring that the Congressional authorizing committees will appropriately review the need for extending the exemption as part of the agency’s next reauthorization;
- streamlines FCC spectrum deposits by requiring that any deposits the FCC may require for the qualification of any person to bid in a spectrum auction be deposited in the Treasury.
- prevents disruption of rural communications by permanently blocking the FCC from implementing a 2004 USF Joint Board recommendation that would limit USF funds to only a single line per household.
SADC (aka Business Data Services Data Collection)
The FCC released another list of additional parties that have signed an acknowledgement of confidentiality (AOC) and that seek to review the data gathered through the FCC’s special access data collection (SADC). The list includes persons that signed an AOC since the FCC’s last Public Notice. Companies that submitted confidential or highly confidential information in response to the SADC have until March 14, 2016, to object to the disclosure of their data and information to any of the parties on the list.
The PSC has requested comment by March 25, 2016, as to whether its affordable base rate for telephone service should be changed in light of changes at the federal level. The PSC notes that, effective July 1, 2016, the FCC will require Utah’s rural telecommunications providers to charge a base rate of $18 in order to remain eligible for subsidization through the Universal Service Fund. Accordingly, the PSC asks whether its base rate should be changed and, if so, how the change should be accomplished.
The House voted 95-0 in support of a bill to develop a cybersecurity plan for IT resources. If signed into law the bill would require that the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) implement a process for detecting and responding to security incidents and to develop plans to ensure continuity of commerce in the event of a security incident. The bill also proposes performance metrics and would require the OCIO to report to the Legislature by December 1, 2020, on its achievement of these metrics.