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 Governor announced plans to “dramatically” expand and improve access to high-speed Internet communities statewide. The State issued a $500 million solicitation for private sector partners to join the New NY Broadband Program. This will expand Internet access in all regions of the state, with a focus on unserved and underserved areas. The program will deliver access to high-speed Internet to every New Yorker by the end of 2018. See more here.
At the same time the PSC approved the merger of Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications. The PSC said this will improve broadband availability for millions of New Yorkers and lead to more than $1 billion in direct investments and consumer benefits. The PSC’s merger requirements will deliver broadband speed upgrades to 100 Mbps statewide by the end of 2018 and 300 Mbps by the end of 2019. Among other things, Charter will be required to offer high speed broadband to 145,000 unserved customers and to create a new low-income broadband program with minimum speeds of 30 Mbps at $14.99 available for 700,000 low-income households. The PSC will require Charter to adhere to a most-favored State provision that requires it to ensure that its offered standalone products and services in New York must be equal to, or better than, any key commitments made or offerings in any other State.
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced the launch of a statewide assessment of broadband access and usage in Tennessee. The survey of businesses and households begins continues through March 15. Businesses and residents may take the 20-minute online assessment at www.tn.gov/broadband. The assessment is an impartial survey of broadband access, adoption, and usage in Tennessee’s rural, suburban, and urban communities. The Department will deliver a full report and policy recommendations derived from the assessment to the Governor in June.
The State’s Attorney General asked the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) to reject a proposed settlement and impose the maximum regulatory penalty of $11.5 million on CenturyLink for a six-hour 911 outage that left the entire state without critical 911 services. In September 2015, CenturyLink and UTC staff entered into a proposed settlement agreement that requires the company to pay a penalty of $2,854,750 and to submit several ongoing reports to the UTC. That agreement is subject to approval by the commission. The Commission held a hearing on January 12, 2016, to consider the penalty issues. See more here.
The 911 outage, which occurred April 9 – 10, 2014, was caused by a preventable coding error that caused 911 calls to fail once a total of 40 million calls had been logged by third-party software used to provide 911 service. In addition, the software’s back-up measures to reroute calls failed and the company had insufficient warnings to alert technicians to the severity and extent of the problem. The UTC found that during the outage, CenturyLink did not adequately communicate to the public, the media, 911 call centers, and the UTC about the problem and the extent to which 911 services were affected. Over 5,600 calls to 911 failed during the six-hour outage.