Thursday, July 11, 2019
Headlines Daily Digest
News From the FCC Meeting
- Public Knowledge Opposes FCC Move to Undermine Broadband Competition in Multi-tenant Buildings | Public Knowledge
- FCC Swings and Misses With EBS Decision | Schools Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition
- Public Knowledge Opposes FCC Action to Dismantle Educational Broadband Service | Public Knowledge
- Educators Lose Key Resource to Close the Digital Divide and Homework Gap with today’s FCC Vote | Mobile Beacon
- FCC’s EBS Vote Attacks Broadband Access for Schools and Low-Income Communities; Ends Educational Resource | Voqal
- Public Knowledge Welcomes Connected Care Pilot NPRM, Urges FCC Address High Cost of Broadband | Public Knowledge
Government & Communications
News From the FCC Meeting
The Federal Communications Commission is taking steps to improve broadband deployment and competition in the nation’s apartment buildings, condominium complexes, and office buildings, known as multiple tenant environments (MTEs). For decades, Congress and the FCC have encouraged facilities-based competition by broadly promoting access to customers and infrastructure— including MTEs and their tenants—while avoiding overly burdensome sharing mandates that reduce incentives to invest. Consistent with these principles, the FCC today takes three specific steps to promote facilities-based broadband deployment and greater consumer choice for Americans living in MTEs:
- In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), the FCC seeks public input on additional actions it could take to accelerate the deployment of next-generation networks and services within MTEs. In particular, the NPRM seeks comment on the impact that revenue sharing agreements between building owners and broadband providers, exclusivity agreements regarding rooftop facilities, and exclusive wiring arrangements have on broadband competition and deployment.
- In a Declaratory Ruling, the FCC clarifies that it welcomes state and local experimentation to increase access to MTEs—so long as those actions are consistent with federal law and policy.
- In the same Declaratory Ruling, the FCC preempts part of an outlier San Francisco ordinance to the extent it requires the sharing of in-use wiring in MTEs. Required sharing of in-use wiring deters broadband deployment, undercuts the FCC’s rules regarding control of cable wiring in residential MTEs, and threatens the FCC’s framework to protect the technical integrity of cable systems for the benefit of viewers.
The Federal Communications Commission voted to preempt part of a San Francisco ordinance that promotes broadband competition in apartment buildings and other multi-tenant structures. The FCC's decision "stop[s] efforts in California designed to encourage competition in multi-tenant environments," said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. "Specifically, we say to the city of San Francisco—where more than half of the population rents their housing, often in multi-tenant units—that they cannot encourage broadband competition. This is crazy." Commissioner Rosenworcel pointed out that the FCC gave up its own Title II regulatory authority over broadband when it repealed net neutrality rules yet is now claiming the authority to stop local broadband regulation. "We somehow claim we have unfettered authority when it comes to broadband in buildings but disown our general authority over the same in our net neutrality proceeding, where we pronounced broadband beyond the reach of this agency," Commissioner Rosenworcel said.
But it's not clear exactly what effect the preemption will have, because San Francisco says the FCC's Republican majority has misinterpreted what the law does. The FCC has "contorted" the San Francisco law into a "non-existent bogeyman, suggesting that the ordinance compels sharing of wiring that is already in use," Commissioner Rosenworcel said. "This is simply not true. In fact, San Francisco has told us on the record that this is not what the law does. But even if it were true, the agency fails to determine here if such sharing would even be technically possible. All of which begs the question, why is the FCC doing this? Why are we preempting an imaginary possibility in a city ordinance in San Francisco?" Chairman Pai accused San Francisco of playing word games, saying in the meeting that "it is difficult to understand how anyone can be harmed by a decision to preempt a city mandate that the city itself claims doesn't exist." Chairman Pai said that if the city is correct that its law doesn't apply to in-use wiring, there's no reason for it be concerned about the preemption. "All of this suggests that the opposition here is driven not by the facts, not by the law, but instead by that crass impulse in politics, 'if he's for it, I'm against it,'" Chairman Pai said. Chairman Pai's proposal said the FCC doesn't need to fully understand San Francisco's law in order to preempt it.
The Federal Communications Commission established procedures for the third auction of high-band, flexible-use licenses suitable for 5G. This auction of airwaves in the Upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz spectrum bands will be the largest spectrum auction in our nation’s history, offering licenses covering up to 3,400 megahertz. These bands of spectrum are suited for the development of 5G, the Internet of Things, and other advanced spectrum-based services, so that Americans can be the first to benefit from the next generation of wireless connectivity. Bidding in Auction 103 is scheduled to commence on Dec 10, 2019. The Public Notice approved by the FCC today provides details regarding the procedures, terms, conditions, dates, and deadlines governing participation in Auction 103, as well as an overview of the postauction application and payment processes.
The Federal Communications Commission voted to modernize the outdated regulatory framework for the 2.5 GHz band to make this swath of vital mid-band spectrum available for advanced wireless services, including 5G. The 2.5 GHz band—the single largest band of contiguous spectrum below 3 GHz—offers favorable coverage and capacity characteristics for next-generation mobile services. The Order eliminates restrictions on the types of entities that can hold licenses as well as educational use requirements, while preserving incumbent licensees’ private contractual arrangements and provisions in existing leases. Further, the Order removes limitations on leases entered into on a going-forward basis under the FCC’s secondary markets rules, which will create incentives to build out in rural areas. Additionally, the Order establishes a priority filing window for rural Tribal Nations to provide them with an opportunity to obtain unassigned 2.5 GHz spectrum to address the communications needs of their communities. The remaining unassigned spectrum will be available for commercial use via competitive bidding following the completion of the Tribal priority filing window. To maximize participation by small wireless service providers, the Order adopts county-sized overlay licenses, a three-part band plan (2 roughly 50 megahertz blocks and a 16.5 megahertz block), and adopts small business, rural service provider, and Tribal lands bidding credits. The Order also adopts robust buildout requirements to ensure that the spectrum is used to provide service.
The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to establish a three-year, $100 million Connected Care Pilot program that would support bringing telehealth services directly to low-income patients and veterans. The proposed Connected Care Pilot would provide an 85% discount on connectivity for broadband-enabled telehealth services that connect patients directly to their doctors and are used to treat a wide range of health conditions. These services can facilitate the effective treatment of chronic conditions outside of the doctor’s office, at significant savings for patients and health care providers. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) adopted by the FCC seeks comment on testing a new program, using the FCC’s existing Rural Health Care Program authority, that would defray the costs of purchasing broadband Internet access service necessary for providing connected care services directly to low-income patients and veterans. The NPRM seeks comment on the appropriate budget, duration, and structure of the Pilot, along with other issues.
The Federal Communications Commission updated its children’s television programming rules. This action provides broadcasters greater scheduling flexibility, enables them to offer more diverse and innovative educational programming, and relieves unnecessary burdens while ensuring that educational programming remains available to all children. The updates reflect the myriad changes in the media marketplace since the FCC first adopted children’s programming rules nearly 30 years ago. Children today have a wide variety of educational programming options available from broadcast and non-broadcast sources, including cable children’s networks, streaming options, and online providers. Among other key revisions, the Report and Order:
- Expands the 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. timeframe to allow broadcasters to begin airing children’s programming one hour earlier, at 6:00 a.m.;
- Modifies the safe harbor processing guidelines used in determining compliance with the children’s programming rules;
- Allows up to 52 hours a year of children’s programming to consist of educational specials and/or short-form programming;
- Requires stations to air the substantial majority of their Core Programming on their primary program stream but allows stations to air up to 13 hours per quarter of regularly scheduled weekly programming on a multicast stream; and
- Streamlines the children’s programming reporting requirements.
Also adopted was a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that seeks additional comment on the creation of a framework under which broadcasters could satisfy their children’s programming obligations by relying, in part, on efforts to sponsor children’s programming aired on other in-market stations.
The Federal Communications Commission took some heat after it voted to loosen its children's television rules. “Today’s FCC decision sacrifices children’s education and well-being all for corporate profit under the guise of flexibility," said Sen Edward Markey (D-MA), one of the senators behind the Children's TV Act. "Promoting the public good and serving kids should not fall by the wayside for the sake of increased business revenue. While the Commission’s final rule change did not completely dismantle children’s television as originally proposed, it clearly put the interests of companies ahead of our kids. Low-income and minority communities will be hit the hardest by these changes as children in these families dis proportionally rely on broadcast television."
“The changes to the children’s programming rules adopted by the FCC today have placed the financial interests of billion dollar broadcast corporations ahead of the educational and informational needs of America’s youth," said Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council. "The changes are a big step backwards for children, but at least they are less drastic than what was originally proposed over a year ago. We appreciate the consideration given to the concerns we’ve expressed throughout this proceeding."
In light of increasing competition in the marketplace for transport services, the Federal Communications Commission largely eliminated pricing regulation of lower-speed, legacy transport offered by price cap incumbent carriers as part of their commercially available business data services (BDS) or as unbundled network elements. The FCC continued its push to eliminate needless and burdensome regulation and incentivize investment in modern networks by adopting a two-part item that provides the following regulatory relief for price cap carriers’ transport services and facilities:
- The Report and Order on Remand section of the item affirms the FCC’s previous findings in the 2017 BDS Order that widespread and ever-increasing competition in the supply of business data services transport justifies relieving price cap carriers of ex ante pricing regulation and tariffing.
- The Memorandum Opinion and Order section of the item partially grants USTelecom’s request for forbearance from decades-old requirements that price cap carriers provide their competitors with dedicated transport facilities between wire centers within their local networks on an unbundled basis at regulated rates.
This April, I joined President Donald Trump at a White House event, where I announced my plans to create the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, a modernized approach for connecting the hardest-to-serve corners of our country. Today, I’m circulating a proposal to formally establish this program. If adopted, the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund will mark the Federal Communications Commission’s single biggest step yet to close the rural digital divide and will connect millions more rural homes and small businesses to high-speed broadband networks. It will take a reverse auction approach in providing $20.4 billion over the next decade to support high-speed broadband networks in rural America. I’m also proposing the Digital Opportunity Data Collection, an all-new approach to mapping that will collect granular broadband availability maps from service providers using shapefiles. I’m also proposing that we verify those maps through crowdsourcing — feedback directly from the public. The FCC will also be voting on a package of much-needed changes to the Rural Health Care program.
Other items on the agenda:
- New rules banning malicious caller ID spoofing of text messages and international phone calls.
- A draft order that would make it easier and cheaper to license small satellites.
- Rules to make it easier to reach 911 from hotels, office buildings, and other places that use so-called multi-line telephone systems.
- A vote to adopt procedures for the auction of more than 17,000 toll-free numbers using the 833 prefix.
- An update to technical rules for Low-Power FM (LPFM) stations.
- A vote on how local franchising authorities may regulate cable operators.
Fourteen Members of Congress wrote to the Federal Communications Commission to express concerns about a proposal to cap the Universal Service Fund. They say imposing a cap would unnecessarily cut funding to USF programs and would force each of the programs to compete for funding. They remind the FCC commissioners that the House unanimously voted to prohibit implementation of this proposed rule.
The Universal Service Administrative Company used airborne drones to measure mobile wireless coverage in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria. USAC’s vendor conducted a total of 20 drone tests in Puerto Rico; one of which was overlapped by a drive test in order to compare relative performance. The remaining 19 drone tests were conducted in impassible areas. Within Puerto Rico, the test evidence suggests that drones are capable of quickly surveying smaller areas, but may not be as useful for surveying larger areas in a cost-effective manner at this time.
No matter how you look at it, mobile network performance has improved in the US thus far in 2019. In Q1-Q2 2019, the US ranked 40th in the world for mean download speed over mobile, which positions the country between Spain and Saudi Arabia. Mean download speed over mobile in the US increased 24.0% between the same quarter in 2018, to 33.88 Mbps. This raised the US three spots in world rankings for mobile download speed over the prior year. The US ranked 94th for mean upload speed, between Angola and Poland. Mobile operators are just now rolling out 5G in some of the largest cities in the US, which is dramatically improving speeds in those cities.
Over a dozen right-leaning groups wrote to Congress asking leaders to reject any changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act -- the law which relieves companies from liability for content posted on their platforms -- even in the midst of bipartisan calls from legislators to enact major changes to the law. Right-leaning groups like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity see any changes to the law as a mistake. According to these groups, changes to Sec 230 would hurt Republicans and Democrats equally. “Countless conservative voices benefit from the liability protections guaranteed by Section 230, and oppose any attempts to end this vital provision,” said David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance. "The internet flourishes when social media platforms allow for discourse and debate without fear of a tidal wave of liability. Ending Section 230 would shutter this marketplace of ideas at tremendous cost.”
Data generated in the classroom is becoming a heated front in the battle over digital privacy, but privacy experts say the issue is more complicated than it might seem. Many school districts have hundreds, if not thousands, of vendors that collect data through apps or online curricula and most are just now beginning to catch up to the proliferation of new tech tools. The digital data kept on students can help learning by improving the effectiveness of the software and helping track the performance of students over time. These benefits are minimized if the data gets deleted every year.
House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-GA) released guiding principles for legislation he plans to draft and introduce to protect online data as the property of consumers and establish privacy protections for online users. “When consumers generate data, they should have a powerful voice in who gets to use it, how much of it is used and under what conditions. Since it’s their property, consumers should also determine how much privacy they want surrounding their data,” Rep Collins said. The following principles will guide the bill draft, which Rep Collins plans to introduce this Congress:
- Establish a federally-recognized class of online data property that includes data consumers generate on online platforms and devices — such as search data, location data, data about their responses to advertising and data included in their online posts — essentially, all the online data that makes up their “Virtual You;”
- Recognize in federal law that this data is the property of the consumers who generate it;
- Enable consumers to oversee the commercial use of their data property and to preclude the use of their data should they choose to do so; and
- Include protections for uses of data generated before the bill’s enactment, for data belonging to users who are minors and for other uses of data — while not unduly disturbing settled legal doctrine, including in the area of law enforcement.
Benton (www.benton.org) provides the only free, reliable, and non-partisan daily digest that curates and distributes news related to universal broadband, while connecting communications, democracy, and public interest issues. Posted Monday through Friday, this service provides updates on important industry developments, policy issues, and other related news events. While the summaries are factually accurate, their sometimes informal tone may not always represent the tone of the original articles. Headlines are compiled by Kevin Taglang (headlines AT benton DOT org) and Robbie McBeath (rmcbeath AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.
© Benton Foundation 2019. Redistribution of this email publication — both internally and externally — is encouraged if it includes this message. For subscribe/unsubscribe info email: headlines AT benton DOT org
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
727 Chicago Avenue
Evanston, IL 60202
headlines AT benton DOT org
The Benton Foundation All Rights Reserved © 2019