Chairman Pai Blog: Storming Back Stronger

In 2018, we created the Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund and Connect USVI Fund. Today, I shared with my colleagues a draft Order that would finalize Stage 2 of the Funds, allocating about $950 million to improve, expand, and harden broadband networks in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. We will be voting on this draft Order at the FCC’s monthly meeting on Sept 26. Now that most carriers have largely restored service, it is time to authorize long-term funding to ensure that everyone in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands has access to the same high-speed fixed and mobile broadband networks as other Americans. And at the same time, we must storm-harden those communications networks so they can withstand the future hurricanes that will undoubtedly come and will continue to function when Puerto Ricans and Virgin Islanders need them most.  I’m particularly pleased that the draft Order would create incentives for the deployment of gigabit-speed fixed broadband and 5G, the next generation of wireless connectivity, on the islands.  My goal is simple: I want everyone in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to be connected with digital opportunity.

At our Sept meeting, we’ll also consider final rules to combat a persistent problem known as “access arbitrage.” The FCC will also take another step forward in our work to promote American leadership in 5G wireless services, as we will vote to seek comment on draft procedures for an auction of 70 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band to begin on June 25, 2020. Our Sept meeting will also feature the latest chapter in our Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative. Specifically, I am proposing to replace the requirement that broadcast licensees and applicants file notices in local newspapers when they file certain applications with the FCC with a requirement that they instead post online notices that would directly link to the applications themselves. Rounding out Sept’s agenda is a draft Order to reform the FCC’s rules governing direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service. The FCC recently streamlined its processing procedures for certain satellites, but the procedures for DBS satellites, those most commonly used to deliver satellite TV, were not updated. 

Storming Back Stronger