Communication at a distance, especially the electronic transmission of signals via the telephone

FCC, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Advise Governors on Importance of Communications

In joint letters Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Christopher Krebs encouraged the nation's governors to provide necessary access and resources to the communications workers helping to keep Americans connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. The FCC and CISA recommend the governors:

Trump administration signals a fresh crackdown on Chinese telecoms

The Trump administration is signaling a broader crackdown on the Chinese communications sector — well beyond the companies that have already come under harsh US scrutiny. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Adam Hickey said that the government’s past objections to powerful Chinese telecommunications players operating in the US may provide a blueprint for the Federal Communications Commission to pursue other firms as well. “We’re concerned about providers that are subject to the undue influence and control of the Chinese government,” said Hickey.

Chairman Pai Response Regarding Keeping Low-Income Consumers Connected to During COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 19, 2020, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) wrote to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai regarding keeping Lifeline subscribers connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. "We strongly urge the FCC to commit that no one loses access to Lifeline at this time of crisis. Congress has invested the FCC with emergency powers to waive, suspend, or revise its policies and regulations for challenging times.

FCC, FTC Demand Robocall-Enabling Service Providers Cut Off Scammers

The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission demanded that gateway providers allowing COVID-19 pandemic-related scam robocalls into the US cut off this traffic or face serious consequences. This is the second such action taken during the pandemic, following a successful push in April with similar letters from the agencies that led to the termination of other robocallers’ access to American phone networks. The letters sent May 20 give the companies 48 hours to cut off these scam robocalls.

Sen Rubio Appointment as Acting Chairman of Intelligence Committee Could Mean More Trouble for Tech and Telecom Giants With Ties to China

Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) appointment as acting chairman of the Intelligence Committee could mean more trouble for tech and telecommunication companies with ties to China. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced Sen Rubio’s appointment in the absence of Sen Richard Burr (R-NC), who temporarily stepped down from the top spot while the FBI is investigating his stock trades.

Commerce Dept Addresses Huawei’s Efforts to Undermine Entity List, Restricts Products Designed and Produced with U.S. Technologies

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) announced plans to protect US national security by restricting Huawei’s ability to use US technology and software to design and manufacture its semiconductors abroad. This announcement cuts off Huawei’s efforts to undermine US export controls. BIS is amending its longstanding foreign-produced direct product rule and the Entity List to narrowly and strategically target Huawei’s acquisition of semiconductors that are the direct product of certain US software and technology. 

Broadband HEROES

On May 12, House Democrats unveiled the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. "We are presenting a plan to do what is necessary to address the corona crisis," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she announced the legislation.

Americans falling back into old habits

The latest Verizon Network Report shows Americans slowly falling back into old habits. On May 13, slightly over 760 million calls were made, falling well below the peak daily call volume during the COVID pandemic at over 860 million calls. Text messaging continues its week over week decline falling another 5% to just under 6 billion texts sent on May 13. That is compared to over 9 billion texts sent at the peak of the COVID pandemic. As call and text volumes fall back towards pre-COVID levels, working and schooling from home continues.

Rural Telecom Operators Take on Risks for Their Communities, But for How Long?

Rural telecommunication operators are taking on business and financial risks to ensure their communities remain connected during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are providing free service and setting up free Wi-Fi hot spots, exposing them to cash flow risks. Setting up hot spots for school children to use while in the parking lot of a fairground is admirable, but this is not a sustainable model for rural operators or the community – and neither is the Universal Service Fund (USF) funding mechanism that only levies fees against telecommunication bills.

Reforming Universal Service Contributions Would Not Harm Broadband Adoption

This analysis explores, from an economic perspective, the effects of modifying and expanding the “contribution base”—the supply of financial resources for the Universal Service Fund—to include both voice and broadband connections. While the Federal Communications Commission has updated the way universal service funds are distributed to orient them more toward support of both voice and broadband services, the contributions system that pays for the FCC’s mission-critical USF initiatives continues to rely precariously upon a dwindling pool of revenues from legacy services.