Lauren Frayer

FCC Proposes to Eliminate Main Studio Rule

The Federal Communications Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, proposing to eliminate the main studio rule, which requires each AM, FM, and television broadcast station to have a main studio located in or near its local community. The Notice also proposes to eliminate the requirement that the main studio have fulltime management and staff present during normal business hours, and the requirement that it be able to originate programming.

The main studio rule, which the FCC first adopted more than 70 years ago, was originally implemented on the premise that local access to the main studio facilitated input from community members and the station’s participation in community activities. Today, modern communications enable stations and community members to interact more directly, without the presence of a local broadcast studio. In addition, community members already, or soon will, have online access to a station’s public file, removing the need for community members to visit the main studio to access the file. Television broadcasters completed their transition to the online public file in 2014, and radio broadcasters will complete their transition by early 2018.

Final Report on March 8, 2017 AT&T Mobility VoLTE 911 Outage

On the afternoon of March 8th, 2017, nearly all AT&T Mobility (AT&T) Voice over LTE customers across the nation lost 911 service for five hours. This report presents the Federal Communications Commission's findings on the investigation.

Among the lessons learned from the March 8th outage is that when 911 service fails for any reason, Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) play a critical role in advising their jurisdictions of alternative ways to reach help. While AT&T and their subcontractors, Comtech and West, made efforts to notify thousands of PSAPs, the notifications were often unclear or missing important information, and generally took a few hours to occur. This outage also offers an illuminating case study that illustrates actions that stakeholders can take to promote network reliability and continued access to 911 service. For example, the March 8th outage emphasizes the importance of auditing all network assets critical to the provision of 911 service, and ensuring that such assets are safeguarded and designed to avoid single points of failure. The outage also demonstrates the need for closer coordination between industry and PSAPs, to improve overall situational awareness and ensure consumers understand how best to reach emergency services.

FCC Modernizes Personal Radio Services Rules

The Federal Communications Commission took steps to update the Personal Radio Services rules, also known as Part 95 of the Commission’s rules, in order to modernize them, remove outdated requirements, and reorganize them to make it easier to find information. Significantly, as part of this effort, the FCC addressed more than two dozen proposals submitted by interested parties. Today’s action will result in a more consistent, clear, and concise set of rules that will better serve the needs of the public.

FCC Proposes to Streamline Rules for Earth Stations in Motion

The Federal Communications Commission took steps to streamline, consolidate, and harmonize rules governing earth stations used to provide satellite-based services on ships, airplanes and vehicles. The action proposes additional flexibity for this fast growing segment of the satellite communications market. Currently, the regulation of these earth stations, collectively known as “earth stations in motion” (ESIMs), varies depending on the type of vehicle to which they are attached and are covered in various rule provisions. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking adopted today, proposes to integrate the three types of earth stations in motion into a single regulatory category. The proposal also proposes rules to allow for blanket licensing in additional frequency bands—the “conventional Ka-band”— which will offer additional flexibity to ESIMs. Together, these proposed changes would simplify the regulatory approval process for ESIMs, reduce the burden on applicants and increase efficiency in processing applications.

Public Notice on Filing Comments on Advanced Methods to Target Robocalls

On March 23, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry that begins a process to facilitate voice service providers’ blocking of illegal robocalls by proposing rules to expressly authorize blocking of certain categories of calls by providers and inquiring into further options for blocking. The Robocall Blocking NPRM/NOI set deadlines for filing comments and reply comments at 45 and 75 days after publication in the Federal Register, respectively. On May 17, 2017, a summary of the Robocall Blocking NPRM/NOI was published in the Federal Register. Accordingly, comments will be due on or before July 3, 2017, and reply comments will be due on or before July 31, 2017. Complete comment filing instructions are set forth in the Robocall Blocking NPRM/NOI and the Federal Register.

Roger Ailes, Who Built Fox News Into an Empire, Dies at 77

Roger E Ailes, who shaped the images that helped elect three Republican presidents and then became a dominant, often-intimidating force in American conservative politics at the helm of Fox News until he was forced out in a sexual predation scandal, died on May 18. He was 77. No cause of death or other details were given in an announcement by Ailes’s wife, Elizabeth. Ailes was a hemophiliac long plagued by obesity and arthritis.

Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press: Trump Has Crossed Dangerous Line

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press was quick to condemn the comments, attributed to President Donald Trump, that then FBI director James Comey should be looking to put reporters in prison for publishing classified information. The Reporters Committee was citing the New York Times story that Comey had taken contemporaneous notes about a conversation where the President had suggested Comey back off investigating former national security advisor Gen. Michael Flynn over contacts with Russia but should be investigating leaks and potentially punishing journalists.

"The comments attributed to President Trump cross a dangerous line," said Reporters Committee executive director Bruce Brown. "But no president gets to jail journalists. Reporters are protected by judges and juries, by a congress that relies on them to stay informed, and by a Justice Department that for decades has honored the role of a free press by spurning prosecutions of journalists for publishing leaks of classified information."

Democratic Reps on Science Committee to President Trump: Stop Depending on Fake News

Democratic Reps of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology urged President Donald Trump to stop relying on “misinformation and fake news" in a letter. The letter claims that the president has left himself vulnerable to misinformation by not appointing a director to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and not fully staffing the department. “You have a tool at your disposal in this regard, should you make use of it, in this Office of Science and Technology Policy,” the letter reads. “If you appoint a qualified OSTP director, you will have a reliable source of policy advice for matters related to science and technology.”

Kansas City Maps Data Related to Digital Inclusion

There’s no exact metric for gauging if Kansas City (MO) is the smartest city on our continent at present, but it’s doubtful that many other US cities would want to call CIO Bob Bennett out on the legitimacy of his claim. Kansas City’s smart city infrastructure is strong — strong and advancing rapidly. Now, as it continues to move forward, city officials have added a new data visualization map aimed at keeping track of digital inclusion efforts as well, so that all populations within the city will benefit from the technological growth of its infrastructure. This new map contains information about Internet speeds provided by AT&T, Google and Time Warner (now also known as Spectrum), with speeds pegged by a Federal Communications Commission support, and it cross references that info with US Census data about poverty levels, creating what is quite likely the first map in the country to do so. In addition, the locations of Kansas City’s popular smart street cars are also available there in real time.

FirstNet: The Wait Is Almost Over

The first responder community has been advocating and waiting for a better communications network for years, and I’m happy to say that the wait is almost over. In 2017, FirstNet will deliver plans for each governor’s approval, and by the end of next year, we plan to lay the foundation for network deployment. It’s an exciting time for public safety, and it’s an exciting time for FirstNet.