Vol. 18, No. 31
July 25, 2022
NARUC Approves Resolution on Lifeline, Affordable Connectivity
NARUC approved resolutions at its Summer Policy Summit, including one recommending that state commissions, the FCC and Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) work together with federal and state agencies that implement programs whose target participants are eligible for the Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs (ACP). The resolution also urged the FCC and USAC to establish agreements with federal and state departments of agriculture and health and human services, and other federal and state agencies implementing programs that establish consumers’ eligibility for Lifeline and ACP.
FCC Orders Providers to Stop Carrying Robocall Traffic
The FCC Enforcement Bureau ordered phone companies to stop carrying traffic regarding a known robocall scam marketing auto warranties from Roy Cox Jr., Aaron Michael Jones, their Sumco Panama companies and international associates. The order follows up on the July 7, 2022, public notice, which authorized providers to cut off the traffic. The bureau also said if providers do not cut off the traffic, they must regularly report to the FCC the steps they have taken to mitigate the traffic.
Wireline Bureau Extends Pole Attachment Reply Date to August 26
The FCC Wireline Competition Bureau issued an order granting in part the American Public Power Association, the Edison Electric Institute and other's motion requesting an extension to file reply comments in response to the FNPRM on the allocation of pole replacement costs between utilities and attachers and ways to expedite the resolution of pole replacement disputes. The bureau said it found an extension is warranted and extended the reply comment date by 30 days, to August 26, 2022.
FCC Establishes Enhanced Competition Incentive Program
The FCC voted last week to create a new Enhanced Competition Incentive Program (ECIP) to establish incentives for wireless licensees to make underutilized spectrum available to small carriers, Tribal Nations, and entities serving rural areas.

The new program encourages licensees to partition, disaggregate or lease spectrum to better match available spectrum resources with entities that seek to provide needed services to under-connected communities. The action builds upon Congressional goals in the MOBILE NOW Act to incentivize beneficial transactions in the public interest.

Under this new program, small carriers and Tribal Nations can qualify, as can rural-focused entities. Transactions through the new program must offer at least half of the licensed spectrum from a given Wireless Radio Service license to an unaffiliated eligible entity for long-term use within specific geographic parameters. The program also says that any covered geographic licensee may offer spectrum to an unaffiliated eligible entity through a partition and/or disaggregation, and any covered geographic licensee eligible to lease in an included service may offer spectrum to an unaffiliated eligible entity through a long-term leasing arrangement.

To participate in the program, parties to a license assignment or lease will demonstrate ECIP eligibility when seeking FCC approval of their transaction, consistent with existing secondary market rules and processes. If the FCC finds that approval of an ECIP eligible assignment or lease is in the public interest, the agency will consent to the transaction and confer benefits, including five-year license term extensions, one year construction extensions, and substituted alternative construction requirements for rural-focused transactions.
Sens. Introduce Bill to Stop Data Caps, Promote Broadband Access
Sens. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) introduced legislation to prohibit predatory data caps that force families to pay high costs and unnecessary fees to access high-speed broadband. As Americans’ need for data is increasing, pricing structures for broadband services must encourage participation in the digital economy, promote competition and innovation, and ensure investment in national broadband infrastructure is used to its highest capacity. The Uncap America Act requires data caps be only used for network management purposes and directs the FCC to hold providers accountable when they impose predatory data caps.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, monthly data usage has increased at a rapid rate. According to a study on American broadband consumption conducted by OpenVault, the average household now exceeds over half a terabyte in bandwidth per month. According to a study by NPD, demand on cellular data was up to 31.4GB on a monthly basis, up 25% from a year prior. Low data caps prevent households from taking advantage of this transition, expanding the digital divide.

“Consumers and creators benefit from an open, robust, and innovative internet ecosystem. ISP efforts to cap, limit or control consumers’ online content choices threaten the marketplace for new ideas from new voices. We support Sen. Luján’s legislation, as it takes important steps toward protecting consumers’ online rights and will help ensure ISPs do not create artificial scarcity to increase prices on consumers,” said INCOMPAS.
House E&C GOP Leaders Urge Biden to Nominate FCC IG
House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Communications, Technology Subcommittee Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-Ohio), and Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) wrote a letter urging President Biden to nominate an Inspector General for the FCC to help ensure that the unprecedented funding made available to the FCC under the Biden Administration does not lead to waste, fraud and abuse. President Biden has not nominated a candidate for this position as required by the RAY BAUM’S Act, which was enacted in 2018.