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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.

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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.

Assistant Editor Ahmad Hathout has spent the last half-decade reporting on the Canadian telecommunications and media industries for leading publications. He started the scoop-driven news site downup.io to make Canadian telecom news more accessible and digestible. Follow him on Twitter @ackmet

China

Hytera’s Inclusion on FCC’s National Security Blacklist ‘Absurd,’ Client Says

Diversified Communications Group said the FCC flubbed on adding Hytera to blacklist.

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Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

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.

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Digital Inclusion

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.

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Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

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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FCC

Former FCC Chairmen Hope for Rebirth of Tax Certificate That Bolstered Minority Voices on Broadcast

Recent conversations about revamping the program are inspired by the possibility of growth in diversity in broadcasting.

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Former FCC chairman Richard Wiley

July 21, 2021–Some former Federal Communications Commissioners are hoping the agency will bring back and work on a program that established and amplified minority voices on broadcast stations.

The minority tax certification, a program that emerged in 1978, was an initiative that searched to find the adequate representation of minority viewpoints in programming that served the needs and interests of the minority community.

The policy quintupled minority station ownership until 1995, when Congress terminated it. Recent conversations about revamping the program are inspired by the possibility of growth in diversity in broadcasting.

“I think it could be brought back with the appropriate safeguards…and I hope it is looked at because it gives people of all color of all backgrounds the opportunity to own broadcast stations and other communications property,” said former chairman Dick Wiley at a multicultural media, telecom and internet council symposium on Monday.

“The tax certificate was a very useful means to get capital to people. Obviously, it was abused and Congress ultimately abolished it, but I think it could be brought back with safeguards,” Wiley added.

“That’s another way to get the opportunity of people of all colors and backgrounds to own broadcast stations.”

Wiley was joined by five other former FCC commissioners, some of which spoke about the program.

Other former commissioners weigh in on diversity in media

Former Chairman Bill Kennard said he remembered the repealing of the program being “tragic because there was widespread support for it…and everyone loved the tax certificate [as] it benefitted everyone and created a lot of opportunity.”

However, Kennard explained the program would need to be adjusted with the dramatic change of technology moving toward the internet and streaming technologies. He said that the FCC must recognize the change and the barriers women and minorities have faced in order to succeed in media.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order in January that “strongly encouraged” independent agencies, like the FCC, to conduct an assessment on “potential barriers that underserved communities and individuals face in trying to access contracting opportunities.”

“Media control our narrative and control our consciousness,” said U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-NY, according to the Associated Press. “And if people of color aren’t owning those spaces and are strategically and just purposely excluded from those spaces, we have to do something about that.”

Former Chairman Ajit Pai reflected on his recent contributions to diversity within the telecommunications industry, including the Early Career Staffer Diversity Initiative. Pai said his one regret in office was not doing more.

An FCC spokesperson told the Associated Press that Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel is “committed to ensuring that FCC policies are equitable, fair and transparent.” Starting with her expansion of the mission of the Communications Equity and Diversity Council is to “review more broadly critical diversity and equity issues across the tech sector.”

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