Attempts by governmental bodies to improve or impede communications with or between the citizenry.
Government & Communications
On March 12, 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission restricted visitor access to its facilities to only those visitors with a clear operational necessity. In light of the improved pandemic conditions, updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that focuses on COVID-19 Community Levels and the associated Safer Federal Workforce Task Force guidance, beginning on June 9 the FCC will permit visitors with scheduled appointments, in conjunction with safety protocols identified by the Task Force, to enter its facilities.
Tennessee Lawmakers Urge NTIA to Reconsider Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program Fiber Preference
Sens Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN) wrote to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Administrator Alan Davidson and stressed that broadband deployment grants should be technology neutral.
FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel Responds to Senators Regarding the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program
Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel responded to Sens Peters (D-MI), Wicker (R-MS), Hickenlooper (D-CO) and Thune (R-SD) regarding their concerns about the reimbursement requests that the FCC has received through the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Reimbursement Program.
Broadband internet is increasingly critical for work, school, shopping, and other parts of daily life. The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the "digital divide" and the disadvantages for people who don't have access. In its efforts to expand broadband access, the federal government has subsidized investment in rural areas that haven't attracted private investment. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified over 100 federal programs—administered by 15 agencies—that could be used to expand access.
Dish Network sent a letter May 27 to SpaceX demanding that the company retract statements that it says could trigger interference with Dish satellite TV services. The letter came after SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that Starlink is available for RVs, campers and other large vehicle users but didn’t state that the service can’t be used on moving vehicles.
As more bipartisan tech-focused bills gain traction in Congress, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a legislative hearing focusing on the security and innovation behind several telecommunications bills. Expert witnesses accompanied lawmakers during the May 24 hearing on the importance of bridging the digital divide with widespread broadband access nationwide.
A group of organizations referred to as the Joint Advocates [including the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society] submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission regarding the implementation of the anti-digital discrimination section in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. In their comments, the Joint Advocates requested that the FCC conduct a study to assess preferential treatment for high-income broadband users over the needs of low-income users. The group makes the following arguments in its filing:
Public Knowledge submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission on May 16, in response to the FCC's Notice of Inquiry regarding digital discrimination rules in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. "Digital discrimination is not just unjust towards individuals, but can hold back entire communities and prevent the nation from living up to its potential," states Public Knowledge in its filing. "Thankfully, the Commission now has not merely the legal authority, but an affirmative obligation, to end digital discrimination.
The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau seeks comment on a petition filed by NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association. NTCA seeks a waiver of the FCC’s rules for small broadband internet access service providers that apply a $75 per month Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) benefit to the bills of qualifying Tribal consumers resulting in a free-to-the-end-user service.
The Federal Communications Commission has announced its agenda for the June 2022 Open Commission Meeting: