WASHINGTON, November 7, 2017 — The Universal Service Fund dollars the Federal Communications Chairman has allocated for rebuilding Puerto Rico’s communications infrastructure has helped with rebuilding efforts so far, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said on Monday in a statement following his visit to meet with stakeholders across the hurricane-ravaged island.
“I was glad to hear that our work so far has helped the people of Puerto Rico,” Pai said.
“For example, I heard firsthand about how the $77 million in advanced universal service funding that we provided has helped to facilitate the restoration of communications networks in Puerto Rico; about how the speedy decision to allow a fixed wireless provider to access 5 GHz spectrum enabled it to quickly establish connectivity; about how our recent E-rate decision will help struggling schools keep teaching students; and about how having FCC staff on the ground since the storm has been immensely helpful to both Puerto Ricans and emergency management personnel like ESF-2 (with many lamenting the field office’s closure over one year ago).”
Pai said that the FCC will continue to “keep thinking creatively and doing proactively” in order to restore communications networks across Puerto Rico, and that more funding would be needed in the months to come.
The Chairman’s visit came nearly a week after last Tuesday’s release of an order promulgating new temporary rules to allow Hurricane-damaged schools and libraries the use of Universal Service Fund E-Rate funding to rebuild their communications infrastructure.
The order specifying these new temporary rules — which had been announced before the Commission’s October open meeting — was delayed while Commissioners considered its approval in written form.
Pai noted that the recovery effort has been hampered by a lack of a functioning power grid and other infrastructure problems, and said that overcoming those challenges “won’t be easy.”
In addition to inspecting a tower site which has been essential for ensuring communication among first responders, Pai met with Puerto Rico Telecommunications Regulatory Board President Sandra Torres López and Associate Member Alexandra Fernández Navarro, and also attended a detailed briefing on the status of communications networks hosted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the agency said.
He also met with representatives from a number of telecommunications providers, including fixed wireless providers Aeronet and Neptuno Networks, wired providers including Claro/PRTC and Liberty, and wireless phone companies including AT&T, Open Mobile, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
(Photo of Wisconsin National Guard communications team in Puerto Rico in aftermath of Hurricane Maria by U.S. Army National Guard photo by Capt. Brian Faltinson.)
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.
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.
Hytera’s Inclusion on FCC’s National Security Blacklist ‘Absurd,’ Client Says
Diversified Communications Group said the FCC flubbed on adding Hytera to blacklist.
WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021 – A client of a company that has been included in a list of companies the Federal Communications Commission said pose threats to the security of the country’s networks is asking the agency to reconsider including the company.
In a letter to the commission on Tuesday, Diversified Communications Group, which installs and distributes two-way radio communications devices to large companies, said the inclusion of Hytera Communications Corporation, a Chinese manufacturer of radio equipment, on a list of national security threats is “absurd” because the hardware involved is not connected to the internet and “does not transmit any sensitive or proprietary data.
“It seems that Hytera has been lumped in with other Chinese companies on the Covered List simply because they happen to manufacture electronics in the same country,” Diversified’s CEO Ryan Holte said in the letter, adding Hytera’s products have helped Diversified’s business thrive.
“This is a wrong that should be righted. Hytera is not a national security risk. They are an essential business partner to radio companies throughout the U.S.,” the CEO added.
In March, the FCC announced that it had designated Hytera among other Chinese businesses with alleged links to the Communist government. Others included Huawei, ZTE, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, and Dahua Technology.
List among a number of restrictions on Chinese companies
This list of companies was created in accordance with the Secure Networks Act, and the FCC indicated that it would continue to add companies to the list if they are deemed to “pose an unacceptable risk to national security or the security and safety of U.S. persons.”
Last month, the Senate commerce committee passed through legislation that would compel the FCC to no longer issue new equipment licenses to China-backed companies.
Last year the U.S. government took steps to ensure that federal agencies could not purchase goods or services from the aforementioned companies, and had previously added them to an economic blacklist.
In July, the FCC voted in favor of putting in place measures that would require U.S. carriers to rip and replace equipment by these alleged threat companies.
The Biden administration has been making moves to isolate alleged Chinese-linked threats to the country’s networks. In June, the White House signed an executive order limiting investments in predominantly Chinese companies that it said poses a threat to national security.
FCC Says 5 Million Households Now Enrolled in Emergency Broadband Benefit Program
The $3.2 billion program provides broadband and device subsidies to eligible low-income households.
August 30, 2021—The Federal Communications Commission announced Friday that five million households have enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.
The $3.2-billion program, which launched in May, provides a broadband subsidy of $50 per month to eligible low-income households and $75 per month for those living on native tribal lands, as well as a one-time reimbursement on a device. Over 1160 providers are participating, the FCC said, who are reimbursed the cost to provide the discounted services.
The agency has been updating the public on the number of participating households for the program. In June, the program was at just over three million and had passed four million last month. The program was part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
“Enrolling five million households into the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program in a little over three months is no small feat,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of nearly 30,000 individuals and organizations who signed up as volunteer outreach partners.”
Rosenworcel added that conversations with partners and the FCC’s analysis shows the need for “more granular data” to bring these opportunities to more eligible families.
The program’s strong demand was seen as far back as March.
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