Connect with us

FCC

States Take Aim at USF and ICC reform

Published

on

WASHINGTON December 8, 2011 – Wednesday TheHill.com reported that the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission filed suit against the Federal Communications Commission for it’s Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to reform the Universal Service Fund and Intercarrier Compensation regime.  The suit, filed in the 3rd Circuit, alleges that the FCC order is “arbitrary and capricious” and that it violates the 10th amendment by compromising the powers of the state commissions.

Core Communications a small telephone company has also filed suit.  Apparently any group seeking to block the FCC’s Order must file by December 9th.

It has been a number of weeks since the FCC released their Order and FNPRM.  Right after the October Commission meeting where the Executive Summary was released, a majority of stakeholders generally praised the reform efforts.  There were a couple complaints from a number of companies, consumer advocates and state utilities, but since then there has been relative silence.

In their October press release, by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) stated that they were pleased with “the proposal to prevent traffic pumping and eliminate inefficient fund disbursements,” and appreciated the FCC’s acknowledgement of the role that States play regarding carriers of last resort and “Eligible Telecommunications Carrier”(ETC) designations.

NARUC hinted at some disappointment by adding, “We and many of our members have a number of concerns about preemption of State authority in other aspects of today’s decisions. Some elements raise a host of unanswered legal and procedural questions but also the specter of unintended consequences for consumers.”

In a phone conversation with Commissioner Anne Boyle from the Nebraska Public Service Commission last month, the Commissioner would not mention whether her state was gearing up to challenge the FCC order but did express disappointment in the one size fits all formula for intrastate rates threatened by the intercarrier compensation reform.  In general she felt that the states did not have a fair seat at the table in the drafting process.

As mentioned above the states were not upset with many of the broader provisions of the Order. They appreciated that only ETCs were eligible for Phase II competitive bidding support under the Connect America Fund.  Additionally the $300 million allocated yearly to the Mobility Fund  Phase I will be limited to ETCs in order to deliver support for wireless infrastructure to under-served and unserved areas.

In its effort to reestablish the Connect America Fund as one that supports deployment of broadband, the Order also places a number of new requirements on ETCs.  ETCs will be required to offer stand alone voice services throughout their area at rates that are comparable to urban rates.  The FCC adjusted the definition of “voice telephony services” to allow for voice services to be delivered through VoIP.  Furthermore, ETCs receiving support under the current High Cost fund, it will be required to offer broadband in their supported areas.  These are serious requirements that mandate, services must meet the basic designated broadband speed set by the FCC and must be able to support services like VoIP.  Finally the FCC has instituted a series of reporting obligations for ETCs that reflect their broadband obligations.

These are some serious new requirements that will be levied on the state designated carriers.

The part of the FCC Order that impedes the most on traditional State authority is the ICC reform.  This reform begins by capping the Local Exchange Carrier’s (LECs) interstate and intrastate rates.  This cap is effective immediately.  The FCC has adopted a bill-and-keep model as the national framework for intercarrier compensation that will eventually phase down termination charges to zero.  By 2013 all intrastate access rates will be brought down to interstate levels.  The total phase down for large carriers is scheduled for 2018 while smaller carriers have until 2012.

This section of the order also sets new rules for intercarrier compensation with respect to VoIP. All VoIP calls whether interstate or intrastate will immediately be subject to the interstate access charges.

In an effort to compensate the incumbent local exchange carriers for their lost termination revenues under the ICC reforms, the FCC will allow ILECs to impose monthly fees on end user customers.  State Commissions and consumer interest groups have disapproved of this measure and share similar concerns that this is not the time to be raising prices for the average American.

The FCC caps what they call Access Recover Charges (ARC) at 50 cents a year for residential and $1.00 for multi-line businesses. The Order does not establish any recovery for Cable Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs) because they are not subject to government regulation when it comes to raising end user rates. This raises a whole new set of issues and questions about disagreements between various stakeholders.

Now that we have been through roughly 700 pages of the FCC’s Order and FNPRM, Broadband Breakfast plans to follow up with summary and analysis of the document along with comments and opinions from a number of the stakeholders themselves.

As Deputy Editor, Chris Naoum is curating expert opinions, and writing and editing articles on Broadband Breakfast issue areas. Chris served as Policy Counsel for Future of Music Coalition, Legal Research Fellow for the Benton Foundation and law clerk for a media company, and previously worked as a legal clerk in the office of Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. He received his B.A. from Emory University and his J.D. and M.A. in Television Radio and Film Policy from Syracuse University.

FCC

FCC Votes on Proposals Ranging From Emergency Response to SIM Swap Fraud in Open Meeting

The agency held an open meeting Thursday to hammer out votes on a range of issues.

Published

on

Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

WASHINGTON, September 30, 2021 — The Federal Communications Commission voted in an open meeting Thursday on several items, including expanding the E-Rate program and addressing SIM swap fraud and robocalls.

The commission voted to increase backup power to networks in case of emergencies and natural disasters and update outage reporting requirements. This follows an aggressive response from the agency during Hurricane Ida. The federal government lost $284 million of productivity during the winter storms last year.

Targeting robocalls from overseas, the FCC passed a set of rules for gateway voice service providers. Gateway providers will be asked to block calls from numbers the FCC lists, to authenticate caller ID and to submit to the FCC a certification of the practices they are using to block robocalls. This follows the June 30 deadline for large voice service providers to implement the STIR/SHAKEN regime, which requires telecoms to work to limit robocalls and ID spoofing or face fines and penalties.

In an effort to reduce SIM swapping and port-out fraud, rules were proposed which would require carriers to adhere to a set of secure methods of authenticating the identity of a customer before moving a customer’s phone number to another carrier or device.

SIM swapping is the act of identity theft whereby a person convinces a wireless carrier to transfer a victim’s cell service into the thief’s possession. Port-out fraud is when the thief creates an account with a new carrier and convinces the victim’s carrier to port out the victim’s service to the new carrier.

The notice also proposes that customers be alerted immediately whenever a SIM change or port request is made under a customer’s identity and account. FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel quoted senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, stating that “consumers are at the mercy of wireless carriers when it comes to being protected against SIM swaps.”

The FCC also updated the definition of library to include tribal libraries for use with their E-rate program, following a 2018 law from Congress. Many tribal libraries under the law were excluded from the program, which subsidizes broadband for schools and libraries, for over 20 years. Only 15 percent of tribal libraries reported having received E-Rate support.

The FCC also adopted and made transparent a series of questions that will be asked of foreign-owned companies wishing to participate in the US telecommunications market.

Questions include whether the applicants or investors have been charged with felonies, been subject to penalties for violating regulations of the US government, have undergone bankruptcy, are on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list and more.

Continue Reading

FCC

FCC Commissioner Simington Says Universal Fiber to the Home Can Wait

Simington also raised idea of Big Tech contributing to Universal Service Fund.

Published

on

FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington.

WASHINGTON, September 29, 2021 – Federal Communications Commissioner Nathan Simington said Tuesday that adoption issues for fiber is delaying the need to make universal fiber to the home a priority right now.

“I think we can push back on fiber to the home universally, at least in noting that there are edge cases and adoption issues there and that some degree of wireless is going to have to be part of the broadband future,” Simington said in a one-on-one conversation with the Internet Innovation Alliance.

A large part of the discourse surrounding the future of broadband expansion in the country is what kinds of technologies are most prudent to ensure connectivity now and scalability in the future. The Wireless Industry Association has pressed the fact that multiple technologies, including wireless, have a play in broadband’s future, while the Fiber Broadband Association and others have said fiber buildout is the best, most scalable technology.

The last mile, where the cable physically attaches to the home or business, was said at the Digital Infrastructure Investment conference this week to be a goal for broadband expansion.

But Simington said that while fiber is a “robust technology,” there’s a chunk of Americans that may not want it.

“I’m going to go out on a limb and say that there are some users who are not particularly interested in fiber,” Simington said. “That might be people who are, for example, device-only users and they don’t want a home broadband connection — that’s about 20 percent of the national population (of broadband users), although the question of want is sort of up in the air.

“Obviously to a person who is device-only, the only use that fiber would have would be to provide hotspot. And if you’re spending your entire day out and about working, what matters to you is having adequate wireless coverage in your area,” he added.

Simington touches on Universal Service Fund

Modernizing the Universal Service Fund has been one of the hot topics for broadband this year. The fund, which extends basic telecom services to all Americans, has been called unsustainable due to its reliance on shrinking voice revenues.

Some have suggested that the fund’s reliance be wholesale replaced with general taxation from Congress, while others have said that the fund’s revenue base should be extended to include the increasing broadband revenues.

Simington prefaced his comments by saying he didn’t want to get ahead of Congress, which would set the parameters of a new regime, but raised previous recommendations – including from FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr – that part of the money can come from big technology companies, like Facebook and Google.

“We might also say that there are companies that have built their model on there being universal broadband and have been the beneficiaries of the buildout without having to do much to contribute to it…that’s something that has been raised on both sides of the aisle,” he said.

He added that another approach “would simply be to say that broadband is essentially the equivalent of a telephone service back in the day and therefore we are going to put it on everyone’s broadband bill instead of on the relatively small installed base of phone line subject to the USF. That would certainly be one approach. It would smooth things out somewhat, it would presumably broaden the base very substantially.”

In any case, Simington said the USF is “absolutely vital” and that it’s failure would be “at minimum…immensely disruptive.”

Spectrum strategies and future technologies  

In his roughly hour-long chat, Simington touched on a myriad of other issues before the FCC, including the future of satellite technologies, spectrum strategies, and funding for programs to deliver telecommunications services to all Americans.

The commissioner noted that the FCC is prioritizing clearing spectrum for technologies including the next-generation 5G networks, and that the agency is looking to “squeeze every drop” of mid-band frequencies for that end. The FCC has already held a number of auctions for mid-band spectrum, including its massive C-Band auction.

FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said earlier this year that the mid-band spectrum is a priority for the agency over millimeter wave spectrum to close the digital divide.

Simington also said spectrum sharing will increase as technological advances are made. The FCC is fielding comments about how to handle the 12 GHz spectrum band, which is effectively pitting satellite providers who say it can’t be shared and 5G providers who say that it can.

Continue Reading

FCC

Cable Group NCTA Says Deny Exclusive Multitenant Access, But Not Wiring, Agreements

NCTA said the FCC should deny exclusive access to these buildings, but not exclusive wiring agreements.

Published

on

Michael Powell, president and CEO of NCTA

WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021 – The internet and television association NCTA is suggesting that the Federal Communications Commission deny all broadband providers exclusive access to multitenant buildings, but to continue allowing exclusive wiring agreements.

On Tuesday, the FCC opened a new round of comments into its examination of competitive broadband options for residents of apartments, multi-tenant and office buildings.

In a Tuesday ex parte notice to the commission, which follows a formal meeting with agency staff on September 2, the NCTA said the record shows that deployment, competition, and consumer choice in multiple tenant environments “are strong,” and that the FCC can “promote even greater deployment and competition by prohibiting not just cable operators, other covered [multiple video programming distributors], and telecommunications carriers, but all broadband providers from entering into MTE exclusive access agreements.

The organization, whose member companies include Comcast, Cox Communications and Charter Communications, also said it should continue to allow providers to enter into exclusive wiring agreements with MTE owners. Wiring just means that the provider can lay down its cables, like fiber, to connect residents.

“Exclusive wiring agreements do not deny new entrants access to MTEs. Rather, exclusive wiring agreements are pro-competitive and help ensure that state-of-the-art wiring will be deployed in MTEs to the benefit of consumers.”

The NCTA also told the FCC that there would be technical problems with simultaneous sharing of building wires by different providers and vouched for exclusive marketing arrangements, according to the notice.

The FCC’s new round of comments comes after a bill, introduced on July 30 by Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-New York, outlined plans to address exclusivity agreements between residential units and service providers, which sees providers lock out other carriers from buildings and leaving residents with only one option for internet.

Reached for comment on the filing, a spokesman for NCTA said they had nothing to add to the filing, which was signed by Mary Beth Murphy, deputy general counsel to the cable organization.

Continue Reading

Recent

Signup for Broadband Breakfast

Get twice-weekly Breakfast Media news alerts.
* = required field

Trending