Senators Want Map Work, Letter on Cybersecurity, D.C. Court Upholds FCC Antenna Rule

Sixteen senators signed a letter encouraging cooperation between the NTIA and the FCC on broadband maps.

Senators Want Map Work, Letter on Cybersecurity, D.C. Court Upholds FCC Antenna Rule
Photo of the Gary Gensler, head of the SEC, in 2013, used with permission

February 15, 2022 – Sixteen senators sent a letter addressed to the head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Tuesday encouraging the agency to work with the Federal Communications Commission on broadband maps ahead of the disbursement of infrastructure bill money.

“It all starts with getting the maps right,” said the letter to Alan Davidson. “The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has consistently overstated broadband coverage around the United States.”

The letter follows the NTIA’s request for public comments on new broadband programs authorized and funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden in November.

“For the first time in history, the IIJA ensures that we will know every location in the nation without service, tie funding directly to helping those locations, and require every state to have a plan in place to ensure that every American, no matter how rich or poor, urban or rural, gets access to the affordable, high-speed broadband that they need and deserve,” said the letter.

Letter presses SEC for cybersecurity disclosure

In a letter sent last week, senators admonished the Securities and Exchange Commission to increase cybersecurity through the Cybersecurity Disclosure Act.

The Cybersecurity Disclosure Act would ask “public companies to disclose whether a cybersecurity expert is on the board of directors, and if not, why not,” according to the February 8 letter.

The bill, sponsored by the seven senators who signed the letter, first came to the Senate in March of last year. It has not been passed yet, with hearings from the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs occurring in September of last year.

“The goal is to encourage directors to play a more effective role in cybersecurity risk oversight,” said the letter.

The letter urged the SEC “to propose rules regarding cybersecurity disclosures and reporting” and to “coordinate the formulation of these rules with the National Cyber Director.”

The letter was signed by seven senators, including Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, Mark Warner, D-Virginia, Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, Kevin Cramer, R-North Dakota, Susan Collins, R-Maine, Angus King Jr., I-Maine, and Ron Wyden, D-Oregon.

D.C. court upholds FCC’s antenna rule change

The D.C. Federal Appeals Court has rejected a challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to allow for more commercial antennas to be erected, which the agency said makes it easier for providers to build out 5G infrastructure.

The 2019 FCC decision was challenged by the Children’s Health Defense, claiming that the erection of more antennas would pose health risks associated with “increased radiofrequency exposure,” according to the Court of Appeals documents.

The 2019 FCC decision in question expanded the terms in the Over-the-Air Reception Devices Rule – which prevented state and local governments from stopping consumers from installing and using over-the-air devices used to get TV signals – to include providers. That meant providers were not to be restricted in erecting antennas and fixed-wireless hubs, which allows providers to streamline buildouts for broadband.

The rule has been modified three times since its implementation in 1996.

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